Core asset

November 28, 1997

Would-be looters of our heritage will find slim pickings in higher education funding, to judge by the National Asset Register published this week by the Treasury. The Higher Education Funding Council for England owns vehicles valued at Pounds 12,000, all but Pounds 2,000 of it used up by depreciation. But even these modest wheels are not for chief executive Brian Fender.

They are for the auditor, who insisted on a car as he had had one in his previous job. Things are more fun at the Student Loans Company - Pounds 124,000 worth of cars and a long-delayed computer system that cost Pounds 4.4 million. For the motoring enthusiast, the Construction Industry Training Board is the place to be, with Pounds 3 million worth of vehicles, so even the tea lady drives a JCB. But the real goodies are at the Department of Trade and Industry, overseer of the research councils. Here we find the Natural Environment Research Council with Pounds 94 million of ships and aircraft and Pounds 104 million of land and buildings; the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council with Pounds 108 million in land and buildings; and the Economic and Social Research Council, worth Pounds 2.3 million all told. It would be better to bid for the pride of the National Physical Laboratory:"Newton's Apple Tree."

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