High Noon for college heads


TEACHER'S PET: Next week's meeting between university presidents and Batt O'Keeffe is shaping up to be a fascinating affair. O'Keeffe has delighted the college heads by re-opening the debate on fees.

And even his audit of spending is being welcomed. One university president even sees it as an opportunity to show the "wonderful value '' which the colleges are delivering.

The bottom line for the presidents? That the budgetary crisis is being addressed - and some plan for more revenue is in place. There is clearly a black hole in the finances of most universities. In the past two years, UCC has posted deficits of more than €11 million. Last year, NUI Galway had a deficit of €7million. This year, UCD has a running deficit of €14 million. Against this background, next week's meeting is a kind of High Noon.

• The continuing Spanish invasion at Liverpool FC is good news for the Bray-based company Crofton Training.

The company provides one-to-one language training for the club's large Spanish contingent, including Fernando Torres (below) and Xavi Alonso.

And Liverpool's Spanish manager Rafael Benitez is keeping faith with Spanish players, recently acquiring Albert Riera for about €10 million. All good news for a small Irish company who had the skill to sell their talents to Liverpool FC.

• The annual conference of vocational school managers is always a highlight of the education year. Its chief executive Michael Moriarty - a former radio executive - is one of the most impressive figures around the education scene.

This week's conference - opening tomorrow in Galway - should be very interesting. It will consider the role of the VECs in the new State-run community national schools at primary level.

• Interesting to see Department of Education Chief Inspector Eamonn Stack appear in that hugely entertaining book by former GAA president Seán Kelly.

Rule 42 and All Thatrecalls how a young Stack saved the day when Kelly and some cohorts took a rather laconic approach to their PE. Kelly was set to be banished from St Brendan's, Killarney before Stack intervened, arguing that the punishment was over the top.

Incidentally, has anyone else noticed how St Brendan's is the alma materof so many senior figures? They include Batt O'Keefe, former education secretary general, John Dennehy and former agriculture secretary general, Michael Dowling.