Education Diary: Resignations at The Times educational supplements

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The Independent Online

Musical chairs at The Times educational supplements, now run by a private equity company. The editor of The Times Educational Supplement, Karen Dempsey, formerly of Personnel Today and The Grocer, has resigned "for personal reasons". She had only been in the post five months; now she is replaced by Gerard Kelly, formerly editor of the successfully relaunched Times Higher Education. His deputy is Alan Thompson, who has also arrived from the THE. So, we now have at the top of the TES two people who are expert in higher education. What does it all mean?

Oxford University pulled out the stops at the launch of its £1.25bn fund-raising campaign – a swanky venue off London's Pall Mall, a beautiful brochure and a slick movie starring Michael Palin (above). Lord Patten was wonderfully unbuttoned in an urbane way about how it was the state schools, not Oxford, who were to blame for the dearth of state school students at the ancient university. If Oxford fails to raise £1.25bn, higher education experts will eat their hats, especially as Dame Vivien Duffield, the arch-priestess of fund-raising, will chair its campaign.

On the platform of the Oxford gig was Professor John Hood, the outgoing vice-chancellor, who annoyed dons by trying to reform the university too fast and furiously for their liking. No mention was made of his successor, though most of the top dogs must have known it was going to be Professor Andrew Hamilton, 55, currently provost (number two) of Yale. A chemist who got his first degree at Exeter University, Hamilton may be an inspired choice. He is clearly a first-rate scholar with a string of prizes to his name and a doctorate from Cambridge, as well as all that precious knowledge of running an Ivy League American university. Professor Alan Ryan, warden of New College Oxford, says it's a smart move. "Yale is fantastically good at undergraduate education, which is under threat here because we are obsessed with research."

Four St Andrews students have set off on a challenge to complete the equivalent of five and a half London marathons – in a pedalo. The four will pedal down the Thames from Oxford to Greenwich to raise money for the Alzheimer's Society. It's 130 miles – not that far, you say – and the team will take nine days to complete it. If you see them when you're down by the river, give them a wave. And keep waving as they creep by at two miles per hour. See www.yourunion.net/staag

Attempts to corral youngsters into higher education have taken a new turn with a giant floor game that has been so successful in the north-east it is to be rolled out across the UK. Devised by Northumbria University with support from Aimhigher, it involves pupils moving around the 14ft-square board as giant counters and doing tasks designed to teach them interesting facts about higher education. We're assured that none of this include the consumption of alcohol.

Secondary schools are urged to put their little Mozarts in for the national Sibelius Student Composer of the Year competition. The judges – including Lord Puttnam (above), Howard Goodall and Dario Marianelli – invite entries in three genres: classical/contemporary, jazz and film. This year, the public gets a vote via the website: www.sibelius.com/studentcomposer.

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