The THES Diary

December 11, 1998

Lawless students

Use it or lose it. The Law Commissioners have been busy spring cleaning the statute books - to clear laws no longer considered relevant. But students will be dismayed to discover that "outdated or useless enactments" that have now been repealed include "five university acts passed to give graduates from newer universities the same employment privileges as if they were graduates from Oxbridge and London".

Fragrant scientists

Fifteen of the brightest and best in science have been invited to Downing Street next week for a frank exchange with the prime minister, chancellor and education and science ministers. Topping the agenda will be science funding and the biosciences. Chaired by Sir Ron Oxburgh, rector of Imperial College, the A list is expected to include: Paul Nurse, director general of the Imperial Cancer Research Fund, Matthew Freeman, Medical Research Council biologist, Olivia Judson, research fellow at Imperial College and science writer of the year at The Economist, Roger Highfield, science editor of the Daily Telegraph, and Sir David Cooksey, a venture capitalist and governor of the Wellcome Trust. With five of those invited aged under 40 they will not be "just a bunch of old farts", as Sir Bob May, government chief scientific adviser, so delicately puts it.

Lords of learning

Education minister Baroness Blackstone has a neat solution to the problems of Lords reform and student access. Under pressure from opposition peers over the fall in mature student numbers, she was asked last week whether there was any upper age limit for students. Seizing her opportunity, Baroness Blackstone, told them there was no upper age limit and under-55s could even get a student loan, adding: "If any members of your Lordships' House would like to take up a loan when they have a little more time on their hands the government would be delighted."

Rex et regina

Purchasers of Glasgow University's 1998-99 academic diary will find it helpful to know that May 30, the day before the queen's birthday, is the clerk of senate's birthday. The university insists that this is totally unrelated to the fact that the diary this year was the responsibility of Rex Whitehead, the clerk of senate.

Young at last

John Redwood, shadow trade and industry secretary, admits the Tories "made mistakes" in handling the science budget. Speaking to the annual general meeting of Save British Science, he said: "We have changed." He is clearly looking different. He was introduced as being born in 1971, taking 20 years off his age.

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