The THES diary

August 20, 1999

Bus ride to millions.

The University of Abertay Dundee has launched a gloomy student recruitment campaign with the slogan "One of Abertay's graduates now works on the buses".

Not quite so gloomy when it emerges that the said graduate is Brian Soutar, who with his sister Anne Gloag owns the multi-million pound transport empire Stagecoach.

Fitzgerald strikes again.

A fascinating insight into vice-chancellors' attitudes to their staff emerged this week from Mike Fitzgerald, former deputy chairman of the Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals, and ex-boss of Thames Valley University.

TVU's failure and his downfall, Dr Fitzgerald said this week on Radio Four's On the Ropes, which profiles those who have fallen from grace, were almost entirely down to his staff.

Industrial action at TVU had indeed thrown the examining system into chaos and staff sniping had brought bad publicity. This in turn led to a damning report by the Quality Assurance Agency and the university's takeover by a funding council hit-squad.

The industrial unrest - and a number of staff votes of no confidence in Dr Fitzgerald's stewardship - had little to do with his management style and everything to do with academics' well-known selfishness.

"Academics are very good at masking naked self-interest as some kind of wider principle," he said. "That has put a lot of people to shame."

Once again Dr Fitzgerald has shown impeccable diplomacy in the week that the Association of University Teachers is on strike over pay.

Bottom of email pile.

The Royal Society of Edinburgh has an unfortunate new e-mail address: rse@rse.org.uk.

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