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December 23, 2005

Can you recall which university spent £150,000 on a new logo 'that resembles a pair of breasts' and other memorable faux pas, follies and facts from the world of higher education over the past year? The first person to answer all the questions correctly in our Christmas quiz will win a magnum of champagne

This was the year when much of the work in the higher education sector was done with an eye to the future. English universities unveiled their financial offerings (and image makeovers) for the first top-up fee paying students, who enrol next September, unsure who would be the winners and losers in a consumer-led marketplace. The judges and the working rules for the 2008 research assessment exercise were announced; and the activity in the academic transfer market continued unabated, with entire research groups moving from one university to another. The long anticipated merger of the academic unions became a reality; the University and College Lecturers Union's first promise was a future strike if academic pay was not improved. Universities have also been busy preparing for new European Union laws next year that will mean permanent positions for young researchers who work on contracts for four years.

Yet as our Christmas quiz demonstrates, there was a lot going on outside the preparatory work. News over the past year reflects a sector embracing a more businesslike approach. A rash of new "corporate identities" and logos emerged. Salary differentials between academics continued to widen.

Tensions between university managers and academics intensified.

And in the wake of the London bombings on July 7, as universities were urged to monitor extremists on campus, the academic world maintained its ability to surprise, question and provoke open and often contentious debate.

The year ended with something long overdue: a ceremony ( The Times Higher Awards) that for the first time celebrated all that was good about the sector.


1. Academic brands: to which university did these statements refer?

1. "Blundering university chiefs have spent £150,000 on a new logo that resembles a pair of breasts." [ The People newspaper]

2. Images used in conjunction with the logo must be "vibrant and aspirational" (an image of two people jumping in the sea is used as an example)

3. The new identity enables staff "to express more powerfully what makes us special". (New university logo launched with "of" capitalised and a full stop added to the university name)

a. Sussex

b. University College London

c. Sheffield

2. Which vice-chancellor

1. Warned academics that their absence from degree ceremonies would be discussed with senior managers, who might take matters further?

2. E-mailed 3,500 university staff to inform them that there had been speculation, "much of it misleading and inaccurate", regarding his personal life?

3. Drives a limited-edition Maserati Barchetta and edited The Cambridge Companion to Byron ?

a. Drum-mond Bone (Liverpool)

b. Michael Sterling (Birmingham)

c. Gerry McKenna (Ulster)

3. The outside view. Who said

1. "I see universities more as a place for intellectual life than as training schools. Undoubtedly we are getting away from that. Is there any room for the pursuit of knowledge now"?

2. "Hundreds of dodgy academic departments put out bogus or trivial pieces of research purely designed to impress busy newspaper people and win themselves some cheap publicity, which in turn can be used in their next funding applications"?

3. "I welcome The Times Higher awards. They give us a chance to celebrate the achievements of the UK's universities - a sector where, thanks to your efforts, Britain is truly a world leader"?

a. Tony Blair

b. Sir David Attenborough

c. Andrew Marr

4. Pay scales: match the salary to the job(all advertised or mentioned in The Times Higher )

1. Director of marketing, Middlesex University

2. Head of Manchester University's Brooks World Poverty Institute (salary and additional benefits)

3. Vice-chancellor (average remuneration of the 20 top-earning heads)

a. £250,000

b. £210,000

c. £60,000

5. Which MP

1. Went to Oxford and was found to have told porkies in The Times newspaper about a godfather, Sir Colin Lucas, who was later vice-chancellor of Oxford University?

2. Went to Oxford and once worked in a pork pie factory?

3. Went to Oxford and lists under leisure interests watching Bolton Wanderers football club?

a. Edward Davey, Liberal Democrat Education Spokesman

b. Ruth Kelly, Education Secretary

c. Boris Johnson, Conservative Higher Education Spokesman

6. Who said

1. Men are more likely than women to win Nobel prizes because they have bigger brains and are more intelligent?

2. Men outperform women in maths and sciences because of genetic differences?

3. More men than women get first-class degrees?

a. Higher Education Statistics Agency

b. Lawrence Summers, president of Harvard University

c. Researchers Richard Lynn, of Ulster University, and Paul Irwing, of Manchester University

7. Which university

1. Was found to operate a quota for state school pupils?

2. Temporarily employed "room police" to identify and fine departments leaving lecture halls vacant?

3. Promoted itself as the leading pink institution for gay staff and students?

a. London School of Economics

b. Cardiff

c. City

8. Which country

1. "Lost" its chief science adviser when his doctorate from an obscure West Coast university was questioned?

2. Faces multimillion-euro fines for failing to comply with a court ruling on the status of foreign lecturers in its universities?

3. Suffered a month-longboycott of two of its universities by in the spring?

a. Italy

b. Ireland

c. Israel

9. In 2005, we said farewell to

1. Which scholar and author who said of writing: "I would rather fail at that than succeed at anything else"?

2. Which educationist who declared that today's satire is tomorrow's policy?

3. Which former electrician and physicist who dedicated their life to an organisation founded by a Canadian railroad tycoon?

a. Ted Wragg

b. Joseph Rotblat

c. Andrea Dworkin

10. Which universities can claim the following curiosities

1. Britain's longest fireman's pole?

2. A bonnet fashioned from John Knox's breeches?

3. A crocodile etched into the wall of a laboratory?

a. Edinburgh

b. Bournemouth

c. Cambridge

Reply by e-mail to l.elliotmajor@thes.co.uk or, by post, to Lee Elliot Major, The Times Higher Christmas Quiz, Admiral House, 66-68 East Smithfield, London E1W 1BX

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