The THES Diary

July 2, 1999

Slow on the march

They don't make Scottish students like they used to. Forty-five this week marched from Glasgow to the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh in a tuition fees and grants protest. They were scheduled to take three-and-half days to cover 54 "gruelling" miles. They have clearly forgotten the post-Reformation "lads o' pairts", who walked miles to university with a sack of oatmeal to sustain them throughout the term.

Peer pressure

Letters have been flying over the life peerage of Committee of Vice- Chancellors and Principals chief executive Diana Warwick and the possible effect on her CVCP work. But note the date of the first letter, sent to vice-chancellors by CVCP chairman Martin Harris, the day before the press release. "I wanted to ensure you were aware of the position before the press announcement," he writes, breaking the strict embargo imposed on honours lists. A case of new Labour spin tactics.

Eastenders taped

Soap fans were glued to Eastenders this week to see if a videotape could identity a suspected murderer. Little did they know that key to the plot was Kevin O'Grady, professor of the school of electronic engineering and computer systems at the University of Wales, Bangor.

Professor O'Grady was approached by scriptwriters for advice on how a security video recording could suddenly become blank and, after detailed research, including simulating magnetism in a laboratory, suggested that hiding the tape in loudspeakers would fit the bill.

He is not letting his brush with fame go to his head but concedes: "It's not the sort of day-to-day work that we're used to here at the school of electronic engineering and computer systems."

Learning curve

Titters greeted Baroness Blackstone as she took to the floor of the Royal York Hotel last week to launch the Institute for Learning and Teaching.

This was not, you understand, because of anything laughable about the enterprise, which aims to improve the standing of teaching in universities. It was more to do with the message projected behind her: "Welcome to the Institute of Leaning (sic) and Teaching."

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