The THES Diary

November 27, 1998

Mind-bender Fender

In an attempt to promote openness, the Higher Education Funding Council for England held its first open day last week. Chairs of university governing bodies and staff from organisations interested in higher education were invited to hear all about HEFCE. But the governors were baffled by presentations peppered with acronyms.

In his keynote presentation, HEFCE's chief executive, Brian Fender, told the assembly about the council's strategic approach "to work in partnership with the CVCP, SCOP and DfEE; the NHS/DoH, OST and research councils; other government departments eg DCMS, FEFC and TTA; regional development agencies, CBI; and the British Council".

Perhaps the governors will be inspired to introduce HNCs (Higher National Certificates) in TLAs (three-letter acronyms).

Masonic confrontation

Just as Stan Mason, fired last year as principal of Glasgow Caledonian University, has won his unfair dismissal case, with a majority call for his reinstatement, the university magazine has published a profile of his replacement, Ian Johnston. Dr Johnston, urging the university to learn from past mistakes and then move on, praises South Africa's truth and reconciliation commission. "We could certainly do with some truth and with some quick reconciliation around here." Reassuring if he has to hot-desk with his reinstated predecessor.

Redundant terrorists

Does the government's new money for science mean that a body called Save British Science is no longer needed?

Perhaps, according to Tony Blair, who has told SBS that he looks forward to the time when SBS can change its name. Unfortunately SBS's biggest paymaster - thought to be a trade union - is less happy with the idea and has mentioned that it might pull out if a less abrasive name were adopted.

Perhaps all might be satisfied if SBS were renamed The Terrorist Wing of the British Science Community, the term coined for SBS by Sir Robert May. Now the government's chief scientific adviser, in an earlier life he was PhD supervisor to Peter Cotgreave, new director of SBS.

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