The THES Diary

November 5, 1999

Calling a prat a prat

There was no beating about the bush for members of the Scottish Parliament last week when they discussed the government's document on the Scottish University for Industry, The Shortest Route to Learning. First, Labour MSP Elaine Murray said she was confused over the inclusion of "a picture of a young gentlemen's posterior on page 16". Next, Conservative MSP Annabel Goldie, admitting reluctance to divert her attention from page 16, tackled the project's name. Nicol Stephen, deputy minister for enterprise and lifelong learning, had warned the name might change and Miss Goldie said it was crucial to define things precisely. "If I may say so, if I think the minister is an honourable man, I shall call him that, and if I think that he is a prat, I shall call him that, too."

Women not weird

The launch contributor to a new online forum about the role of women in scientific research and education laments "the idea of scientists often portrayed in the media as weird, eccentric boffins". This, she says, "does not appeal to young people and particularly to young women". But she does not seem to have been deterred herself by the idea of mixing with such characters. The contributor is none other than Diana Warwick, chief executive of the Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals and recently elevated to the House of Lords.

Sent to Coventry

Ministers' decision to build the new Learning and Skills Council on the foundations of the Further Education Funding Council's headquarters in Coventry produced rather more jubilation than expected. Not only does the decision mean that the majority of FEFC staff are likely to keep their jobs, it also confirms that they have not been working for the past six years on dangerously contaminated land. A report on proposed locations for the LSC for the government by consultants Capita warned: "The implementation of a single site at Coventry for the LSC would require the building of an extension on land adjacent to the existing building. However, there are some questions regarding land contamination on this site ... It is strongly recommended that ... written assurances are received from the existing site owner prior to any announcement."

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