The THES Diary

June 11, 1999

Banned practice

Penpushers at the Department for Education and Employment have been pondering problems caused by a groovy course at Accrington and Rossendale College - Bachelor of Arts (Hons) in band studies. Students attend weekend seminars, band sessions, individual instrument tuition, learning support and tutorials and, says the college, are expected to spend a considerable time on college premises.

After some thought, the DFEE has decided the course, though "unusual", is still full time, and its students therefore eligible for mandatory awards. However, sniffs the department, it has been told some students, although enrolled with the college, are undertaking most of their course work at home, only attending eight weekend seminars a year. These, it says, will NOT be eligible for loans.

A PhD in boredom

The first incumbent of the Collier chair in the public understanding of science at the University of Bristol has a robust approach to communicating the benefits of science and technology to society. Blaming public concern about genetically modified food and mad cow disease on an arts-educated media, Peter Cochrane, head of British Telecom's research labs, says: "Legions of history graduates acting as the nation's watchdogs is hardly a recipe for accuracy and diligence." But scientists, he says, are also to blame. Most "seem to have taken a PhD in being boring".

Bank sees the light

Students may feel under increasing financial pressure, but the Bank of Scotland seems to believe they should be cherished as customers with a glittering economic future. For three months, the bank has brazened out its controversial joint venture with American tele-evangelist Pat Robertson, who condemned Scotland as "a dark land" run by homosexuals.

Last Thursday, the National Union of Students Scotland called on all Scottish students to boycott the bank if it refused to sever its links with the preacher. Within hours, Peter Burt, the bank's chief executive, was on his way to the United States to axe the deal.

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