Antithesis

December 29, 1995

And now here is next year's news . . .

JANUARY

Spectacular changes in Essex University senate meetings following Ivor Crewe's appointment as vice chancellor. Peter Snow takes the chair while a panel of John Prescott, Peter Lilley and Charles Kennedy sits in to comment on the political consequences of all decisions.

David Owen celebrates his appointment as chancellor of Liverpool University by seceding to set up the University of Everton.

FEBRUARY

The mysterious disappearance of three colleges in the east Midlands is explained when they reappear as campuses of De Montfort University.

Hackers break into the funding mechanism. The funding council says it does not know who it was, but starts to get suspicious when London Guildhall University gets a 429 per cent increase in its allocation.

Scottish Secretary Michael Forsyth's unwonted tendency to sit and nod enthusiastically during meetings with education lobbyists is explained when it is discovered his Christmas presents included a mini-Walkman and the new Oasis album.

MARCH

LSE plans to move to Bart's Hospital speed up when they discover that the expected four-year wait will be cut to three weeks if they go private.

Aston sues the funding council under the Homeless Persons Act following its expulsion from the safety net.

APRIL

The Higher Education Quality Council aims to emulate the success of Finnish Radio's weekly News in Latin by announcing that future reports will be translated into English.

Aberdeen University throws out an application for the principalship from the Marquess of Bath because it does not have enough jobs for his wives.

MAY

A setback in the hunt for the ideal man to sort out quality and create a single agency when it is pointed out that Francis Urquhart is a fictional character. Several vice chancellors protest that quality is a fictional concept. The funding council denies that research assessment is having a distorting effect on academic activity although 934,853 books were published in March and 11 in April.

JUNE

De Montfort University admitted to hospital suffering from indigestion. Differing respon- ses to funding cuts. Derby shuts its library, Hull sacks all academics earning more than Pounds 18,000 pa and Oxford reduces its port order by 5 per cent.

JULY

HM Government finally bows to pressure to examine the link between student poverty and drop-out rates. Mystery surrounds the consultants appoint- ed to do the job until civil servants explain that they were recommended by tobacco firms appreciative of past work on the causes of cancer.

Coopers & Lybrand not asked to report on anything in HE.

AUGUST

Tony Blair, surprisingly relaxed after Labour's higher education policy is left on a bus, points out that it is indistinguishable from any other box of unused photocopier paper. Setback for FE agency Education Lecturing Services when several hundred lecturers run away to work at Burger King.

SEPTEMBER

The General Election. Eric Forth and Bryan Davies solve their reselection problems by agreeing that they should both challenge Liberal Democrat spokesman Don Foster in Bath, with higher education funding as the only issue to be debated. Screaming Lord Sutch wins the seat on a 1.7 per cent turnout.

OCTOBER

Michael Atherton appointed higher education minister in the new Lib-Lab coalition government on account of his ability to stay around forever, prevent a definite result and still emerge a national hero. Oxford creates a Diana Spencer chair in self-effacement.

NOVEMBER

Employers negotiator Roger Ward summoned before a House of Commons committee on further education. Under fierce questioning he smiles dismissively when accused of wrecking the sector, but breaks down when shown secretly-shot film of himself buying an off-the-peg suit.

DECEMBER

Nasa plans to land the first man on Venus scrapped after a satellite probe proves that De Montfort University has a campus there. The new Journal of Consciousness Studies shuts after surgeons performing a routine operation in Biggleswade hospital discover that the inner ear is the seat of consciousness.

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