The THES Diary

October 29, 1999

Terminated pay review

Sabre-rattling by the Association of University Teachers this year seems to have lost the sabres.

Not only does industrial action over pay seem to be petering out, but the union has just suffered a set back in the quest for its holy grail - a pay review body.

A private members' bill on pay review was due to have its second reading in the Commons today. But parliamentary time- table constraints mean that after clearing all the hurdles in the Lords, the bill and other PMBs will now be dropped to vanish without trace.

An AUT spokeswoman put a brave face on matters, saying: "We'll be back."

Posh power

Education secretary David Blunkett is likely to be in two minds about his score in the latest power table - higher than home secretary Jack Straw but a good bit lower than Glaxo Wellcome chair Sir Richard Sykes.

Also in an ambiguous position in the list of the 300 most powerful people in Britain, published in last Sunday's Observer, is Susan Greenfield, one of the highest scoring scientists. In spite of being called an "intimidating presence" on the panel that compiled last year's rankings, she is still considered several steps less influential than Posh Spice.

How to get a head

Raise a glass to Britain's intrepid food scientists, who have been taking a close look at the "foaming potential" of beer.

The work, the scientists at the Institute of Food Research soberly inform us, is necessary because "consumers judge overall beer quality on the basis of foam quality".

They applied "monoclonal antibody technology" to malting and brewing to develop a test for foam potential. This will help develop new information to aid the brewing industry in supplying consumers with the desired level of product quality, they insist, as they pull another one.

Old habits die hard

Consternation in Cambridge about gowns planned for a new degree in veterinary science. According to student magazine The Cambridge Student, dons feel the proposed black hoods with cherry silk linings appear, worryingly, to be "similar to the MPhil robes of many new universities".

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