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Middelhoff and the Forum  

Today’s New York Times, in reporting the move of Thomas Middelhoff to Investcorp, notes that he almost moved to the World Economic Forum.

“Perhaps Mr. Middelhoff’s strangest near miss came last winter, when he was offered a senior position at the World Economic Forum, the Swiss foundation that holds a rarefied conference of political and corporate celebrities each year in the Alpine ski resort of Davos. The idea, people close to Mr. Middelhoff said, was for him to be a successor to Klaus Schwab, the one-time professor who turned Davos into a global event. It became clear, however, that Mr. Schwab did not really want to relinquish his control, and Mr. Middelhoff pulled back.”

There’s a long history of near-misses like this one, and anyone who knew the Forum would have told Middelhoff that succession was not on the agenda. Incidentally, a large part of Middelhoff’s success at Bertelsmann is thanks to Davos. It was there that he was persuaded to invest in AOL Europe, which ended up being a multi-billion bonus for Bertelsmann, which got out when the going was good.

Seizing the ground 

PolitX makes an important point: “I’m not prepared to let the right hijack any democratic uprising in IranÂ… The issue at stake here is not about the pedagogy of Western politics; it is about people’s lives. It is about bettering lives now and saving lives in the future. Stake your claim to support legitimate democracy now, before they take it away from you.”

Pull the other one 

Adam Fox reckons the UK’s university system is following an American path, with eventually fully privatised institutions coexisting with public ones.

I’m sceptical, not least because of the difficulty of changing a society where people believe it is the government’s responsibility to provide higher education.

On one point, however, I am completely confident of Fox’s wrongheadedness: “Sports scholarships, for example, may improve access statistics, bring in huge revenue to universities and raise our sporting and athletic standards across the board.” For most US universities, sports are a cost, not a revenue-generator. I can see no scenario whatsoever where sports could bring anything approaching “huge” revenues to UK universities.

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