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Kirk graduates in diplomacy - sometimes

Gordon Kirk, Moray House's principal, is not famed for biting his tongue in the interests of diplomacy. But his discretion last week was admirable. On the day that agreement was announced for the merger with Edinburgh University, he topped the bill at a graduation ceremony at Heriot-Watt, current partner of Moray House and validator of its degrees.

Not a word about merger passed his lips as he addressed graduands. His peroration counselled the new teachers to remember that they are ambassadors for Heriot-Watt, which is more than can now be said for Moray House.

Relations have recovered between the two institutions compared with last year when news of Moray House's defection and Heriot-Watt's subsequent attempt to grab Cramond campus for itself brought outbursts that included terms normally used only by John Major about his Cabinet.

Not that Kirk has lost his bellicosity, as fellow members of the Committee of Scottish Higher Education Principals can testify. The recent dinner with Scottish Office ministers Donald Dewar and Brian Wilson to discuss the future of higher education was enlivened by a brisk or brusque interjection from Kirk. He particularly upset Dugald Cameron, principal of Glasgow College of Art, who had been deputed to speak for the smaller institutions but whose animadversions on behalf of his own backyard did not strike Kirk as entirely meeting the case. A postprandial exchange of letters followed.

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