The THES Diary

January 29, 1999

From cradle to grave

Watchdog Ofsted's crusade to raise standards has not ignored the tiny. Inspectors, whose professional zeal has been blamed for causing nervous breakdowns among teachers, include in their remit university cr ches.

Ofsted says it only inspects cr ches because they offer state-funded provision for over-fours and has no remit to inspect provision for babies and toddlers.

But this does nothing to diminish pride at Warwick University. Its cr che earned top marks after being Ofsteded.

A real dog dinner

Spare a thought for student hardship in Russia, where two economics students, who claimed they were starving on their measly monthly stipend, made soup out of a six-year-old pure-bred boxer called Rex.

Alexei and Alexander were supposed to be looking after the dog for a security guard at the students' hall of residence at Novgorod State University.

Mixed messages

As Britain's lecturers prepare for industrial action over pay, Bradford Association of University Teachers suggests an update for the old multi-syllabled slogan, so beloved of academics, "rectify the anomaly".

Calling on employers, in what it called a "Beachy Head" motion to the Association of University Teachers council to confront pay erosion in the sector, it offers "restore our erosion" as having a more modern ring.

A 'healthy' move

Rumours of AUT finances suffering their own erosion have been greatly exaggerated. The union's operating deficit for 1998 of Pounds 286,000 includes costs of Pounds 206,000 associated with a move to new headquarters at Egmont House, in London's Bloomsbury. But profits on sale of investments and fixed assets have left a surplus of Pounds 119,000, transferred to accumulating reserves. Honorary treasurer Alan Waton, reports a financial position that is "extremely healthy". There has simply been a switch from equities to property.

Almost science fiction

The admirable James S. McDonnell Foundation, a US funder of medical research, has a sideline. Its web site features what foundation staff regard as the worst of the worst journalism on neurological science, with rigorous criteria including misrepresentation, excessive extrapolation or significant oversimplification. The current winners, visible at www.jsmf.org, are from Science, the New York Times and the Washington Post. More nominees are invited: surely the rest of the world also deserves a mention.

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