The THES Diary

September 3, 1999

King's 1, Argentina 0

Years of underfunding in higher education there may have been, but King's College, London, is in better financial shape than many major cities and even countries.

Credit ratings company Standard and Poor's has just awarded King's a "double A minus" rating meaning it has a "very strong" capacity to meet its long-term financial commitments. King's also has a "stable" outlook and an A-1 short term credit rating - the highest category.

By comparison, Argentina is BBB-minus, Hong Kong A-plus, Greece A-minus and even oil-rich Kuwait is only an A-plus. Prague, Genoa, Naples and Montreal all score lower.

While many organisations seek credit ratings when they are looking to borrow money, a spokeswoman for King's denied this was the reason for approaching Standard and Poor's.

But she did admit that, hypothetically speaking, a "double A" was like money in the bank.

Lush life

It is difficult to know whether a trawl through Who's Who or membership lists of Alcoholics Anonymous would be more lucrative in identifying colleagues referred to by geneticist Steve Jones, plugging his latest book.

He has been enthusiastically recalling the hedonistic days of Edinburgh University in the 1960s and "some of the drunks" he spent time with, who have since become eminent scientists.

Win a degree

While some bemoan the materialism of today's students, others are making the most of it. "Study at Derby Tertiary College: Wilmorton and get a gold card" is not a bad advertising ploy - even if students build up credits for a place at the University of Derby, rather than for air miles. Perhaps still more attractive to 1990s youth are some of Wilmorton's other student-recruitment schemes, such as "win a mountain bike" and "win a special edition Corsa SXi".

Love the book

The reception area of Edinburgh University's Centre for Reproductive Biology contains interesting reading material. Alongside sedate material such as The Messenger, the staff newsletter of Lothian University Hospitals, is a well-thumbed edition of Harold Robbins's Where Love Has Gone.

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