The THES Diary

December 18, 1998

Union drive at FEFC

There has been an outbreak of militancy at the Further Education Funding Council, where staff have been flocking to join a trade union. Public Commercial Services has signed up 60 members from the 420-strong quango so far. While PCS is naturally proud of the success of its recruitment drive, it may have had a helping hand. Recent FEFC reorganisation with a new role-based pay system has been causing a few murmurings in the ranks, resulting in an appeals committee, which met for the first time this week. The council confidently expects to have dealt with all 20 or so appeals by Christmas.

Maverick Knight

Peter Knight, vice-chancellor of the University of Central England, has finally been rewarded for tirelessly raising his head above the Birmingham parapets. He has been nominated for the Maverick of the Year Award, presented by the Maverick Club to people who "tread their own path, defy convention and speak their minds". Honoured for refusing to withdraw a book of explicit photographs by Robert Mapplethorpe from his university library, he joins four other nominees: Professor Nadey Hakim, a member of the international limb transplantation team; actress Emma Thompson; anti-beef ban hotelier Jim Sutherland; and Craig Brown, author of The Little Book of Chaos.

Fluorine fix

Glasgow University's newsletter has revealed an ingenious way of overcoming chronic underfunding for research equipment. Tony Fallick, of the isotope geosciences unit laboratories at the Scottish Universities' Research and Reactor Centre, entered a competition set by manufacturer Fluorogas for a coveted fluorine generator worth several thousand pounds. Having correctly answered a series of technical questions, Dr Fallick won with the slogan:

"I would like to win a Fluorodec LT because it is the safest way to work with fluorine."

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