Those of us who cherish a belief that the intricacies of higher education policy are of interest to everyone may have to think again. Last week the House of Commons science and technology committee revisited the sexiest of topics - the research assessment exercise. Eager policy wonks watched as big names including Sir Gareth Roberts, author of the government's recent RAE review, gave evidence. But Conservative committee member Robert Key was clearly finding the whole affair very tiring. As his colleagues got hot under the collar about the need to cancel the 2008 RAE round, Mr Key lost the struggle to stay awake. He was galvanised into action only when representatives of the Higher Education Funding Council for England were called to the table to give their views. Mr Key was out of the door before they could say "research funding".