The THES Diary

October 22, 1999

Big people, small talk

Stars of the academic industrial complex were out in force in Cambridge for Monday's SmithKline Beecham lecture in the Judge Institute. The lecture was followed by dinner in Pembroke College, which has close and evidently rewarding links with SKB thanks to its fellow for development, Howard Raingold.

It was an occasion rich in irony as SKB welcomed the chairman of rival Glaxo Wellcome, Sir Richard Sykes. If merger plans had not bombed last year, they would all have been part of the same family.

Also rich was the five-course, six-wine banquet prepared for the 100 guests by new college chef, M. Stephen Mather.

A lot to slip up on

Signs of an evolving sense of humour at the Colorado State Board of Education, co-winner (with Kansas) of this year's Ig Nobel Prize for science education for its role in encouraging caution about the untested theories of Charles Darwin.

The board sent a basket of bananas to Ig Nobel organiser Marc Abrahams. He thinks this is a reference to the 1962 classic Evolution of the Bananas, by N. W. Simmonds, now out of print.

Will Hang the DJ play?

This week's visit to London by Jiang Zemin, China's president, has led to increased comment on how the premier has in the past year cracked down on dissidents and closed media outlets.

All the more interesting, then, the announcement that the University of Sunderland has signed a deal allowing students to do work experience with China's Radio Guangdong. Neil Maynard, director of the university's centre for international education, says it will allow students "to get hands-on media experience in a culture so different from our own".

Structural faults

After two tortuous years, the Royal Institute of British Architects has this week finally published its plans to reform architecture education and training.

The review, billed as the biggest revamp of architecture education for decades, will be a hard sell, even to those inside. A senior Riba official said: "I wish we had never started it. We'll put it out, then just stick it in a drawer and hope everyone forgets about it."

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