May 1, June, or is it July? These significant dates are likely to have been pencilled into the academic calendar, rather than marked in indelible ink.
The first, still the best bet for the General Election, has a bearing on the second, the month in which Sir Ron Dearing's inquiry into higher education is scheduled to reveal its conclusions.
The dynamics between these two events has opened up new avenues for speculation over when Sir Ron will publish. If Labour comes to power, for instance, will it want to be landed immediately with the results of a national higher education inquiry? Some sources close to Sir Ron's committee say July is still on, but others see it slipping to July or even September. Bookies Ladbrokes is quoting odds of 5-1 against publication in June. One thing is certain. Publishing when most of the academic community is in Tuscany would be about as popular as a Conservative election victory.