Friends at court

Brian Wilson has pleased a number of very influential people. We refer, of course, to the Education Minister's decision not to unseat rectors from the chair of the university court in the four ancient universities.

The most famous former rector is Chancellor Gordon Brown (Edinburgh). But other warm welcomes will no doubt be forthcoming from Donnie Munro, of ex-Runrig and New Labour fame (Edinburgh), and Willis Pickard (Aberdeen), editor of an august educational journal known to us. Not that this affected our editorial judgment in any way.

Ministers acted with remarkable speed to overturn the Garrick committee's recommendation, presumably prompted by principals unhappy at not being in control of who chairs their courts. On second thoughts, it was not remarkable at all. David Blunkett dismissed the Dearing report's ideas on student finance within hours of publication.

But last time round, when abolition of the rectors' right to chair was shovelled into the opting-out legislation, it took the prospect of defeat at committee stage for Michael Forsyth to throw in the towel.

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