Anglia Polytechnic University is looking for a new name. When it became a university, there was a right old gnashing of teeth over what name it should adopt. Anglia University was out, since it could be confused with the University of East Anglia. The powers that be wanted to stick to Anglia, if for no other reason than that it would top alphabetical lists of universities. So Anglia Polytechnic University, which some thought neither fish nor fowl, was born. APU governors have now ordered a name "review". Some want to keep "polytechnic" in the title because "it's distinctive" and no other university uses it. How about the University of Chelmsford? That's where its central campus is located. I'll happily pass on any other suggestions.
Chris Woodhead (BA, PGCE, Bristol; MA Keele) is probably the most loathed individual in the world of teaching, and more responsible than poor salaries for the spate of early retirements and resignations among "Ofsteded" teachers. Now there is a ray of light. Mr Trendy, as Woodhead used to be known when he was a teacher and practised all the things he now despises in other practitioners, has hinted that he may be looking for pastures new. "If I stay in a job for more than two years, I start feeling too cosy," he told last week's National Governors Conference in London. He could not have made this puzzling statement in anticipation of the general election, since he has already been told that his future is secure, regardless of which party wins.
The appointment of Dr Roger Watson, senior lecturer in nursing studies at Edinburgh University, as senior warden of Pollock Halls, the university's splendid hostel, has reminded me of my salad days when I attended numerous education conferences, many of them on university campuses. I even planned to write a book on the Great British University Breakfast, but never got round to it. A Pollock Halls cooked breakfast certainly got my vote for the best in the UK all those years ago and I was glad to see that it recently received top marks for quality of food and courtesy of staff. Nottingham University would have come a close second.
Big Apple for East London
Who'd have thought that those who look after 26,000 acres of New York's parks would come to London's East End to share know-how on land conservation and restoration? On Tuesday, Marc Matsil, chief of the National Resources Group for the Big Apple's parks and recreation department, flew in to see Jim Harris at the University of East London. Dr Harris, head of UEL's environmental sciences research unit, is acknowledged as a world authority on restoration ecology. Thanks to him, vice-chancellor Frank Gould signed an agreement with New York for joint restoration research and staff, student and local government rep exchanges. Just think - a bit of Barking could end up in Central Park.
Dons and the vote
You know that a general election is fast approaching when unions start bombarding candidates with questionnaires. First off the mark is the 37,000- member Association of University Teachers, with a four-page check-list. Each candidate will be asked to answer questions on university funding, pay, conditions and security of employment, access to higher education, student support, investment in research and so on. Long-winded, point- dodging replies are impossible. Our hand-shakers and smilers will be asked simply to circle one of a series of printed answers ranging from "strongly agree" to "strongly disagree". For the overall result, watch this space.
Delighted to hear that hacks can also make it to the top. Peter Scott, once a humble journo on the Times Educational Supplement and then The Times, rose to be editor of the Times Higher. But even editors get fed up, and after 16 years at the job he went to Leeds University as professor of education, and there set up the Centre for Policy Studies in Education. Within a mere breath he was promoted to Pro-Vice-Chancellor. And from next month he's coming back south as Vice-Chancellor of Kingston University in succession to Dr Robert Smith, who retires after 15 fruitful years at the helm, during which he helped turn a successful polytechnic into an even more successful teaching university. He deserves the university's thanks.
And Peter has my best wishes.