The THES Diary

July 9, 1999

Shine on

Delegates to the TEC annual conference were in defiant mood last week after being effectively abolished by the government's white paper Learning to Succeed. So speculation ran rife over the cause of a black eye on newly knighted Michael Bichard, permanent secretary at the Department for Education and Employment. The DFEE declined to comment, but a spokesman for the TEC national council was worried. "I just hope he arrived with it," he said.

The name game

The Scottish Higher Education Funding Council is sponsoring a new system, available on the internet, to promote Scottish institutions' research capabilities. Naturally, an acronym is needed. But it has regretfully turned down two imaginative suggestions - Business Resource: A View into Emerging Higher Education's Advanced Research and Technology (BRAVEHEART) and Research in Scotland: Ideas for Business in the Local Economy (RISIBLE).

Peers and queers

Unusual business in the House of Lords this week, where under discussion was the ethics of "recruiting and paying 600 homosexual males to have anal intercourse". City University conducted a trial of 300 volunteer couples to test the effectiveness of thicker condoms to prevent HIV transmission. But Baroness Knight of Collingtree raised the matter with m'noble lords suggesting conducting research in this way was not the proper function of a university. City University defended its study, adding: "The ethical issues of evaluating condoms are complex."

Sizer matters

John Sizer, chief executive of the Scottish Higher Education Funding Council, is now also chief executive of the Scottish Further Education Funding Council, which has just taken over financial responsibility for the colleges from the Scottish Office. A guest at last week's Association of Scottish Colleges' annual conference dinner, he was greeted with rapturous cheers from delegates hoping that the lean years are now over. Professor Sizer duly opened his wallet, and, in the style of Harry "Loadsamoney" Enfield, flourished a substantial wad at the enraptured throng.

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