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Exam paper


Ivory Tower: eyes down for a test of your numeracy and your patience

Assessment for the degree of:

BSc Trussonomics

Incorporating the Rishi Sunak certificate in Extra Maths*

[*Approval of government expenditure, training and employment of additional maths teachers, and redesign of entire post-16 educational offer in England and Wales required. Available from 2025—maybe.]

Module 101: Economic Growth and Tax Cuts

You must use an AI chat bot to complete your answers.

Assessment is subject to a marking boycott.

You have 49 days to complete.

You have 40 years to repay your student loan.

Terms and conditions apply.

Paper validated by the Quality Street Assurance Agency, Microsoft Office for Students, the Anti-Growth Coalition, and the Guardian-Reading Tofu-Eating Wokerati.

Section 1: Kwasi Rational Economics

1. If Liz spends 49 days as prime minister and her mini-budget costs the taxpayer £30bn, how many days is it before she is allowed to make a political comeback with a front-page op-ed in the Telegraph? Express your answer as a fraction of the outrage felt by the taxpayer.

2. How long must a deluded rant by an ex-prime minister about her failed economic policies be before we are obliged to refer to it as an “essay”? Do not exceed 4,000 words to justify yourself.

3. Liz and Kwasi have run up debts. They pass the terms of the loan onto Jeremy and Rishi. Draw a graph to explain the declining popularity of Jeremy and Rishi over time: stop at 2024, no data are necessary after that. Express Liz and Kwasi in negative terms.

Section 2: Sound Money

4. If you need to put off £40bn worth of public spending cuts until after the next election, how many times do you have to send Grant Shapps out to do the early morning media round before everyone gives up trying to ask about it?

5. Nadhim has carelessly but not deliberately underpaid his taxes. How long can you wait before replacing him as minister without portfolio, and would anyone notice if you did?

6. A large Whitehall department is being broken up in a cabinet reshuffle caused by a departing party chairman. Calculate the cost to the taxpayer of new stationery and email addresses for all the civil servants involved. Do a cost benefit analysis of leaving things exactly as they are, then roll your eyes in disbelief.

Section 3: Student Finance

7. Nigel buys a train ticket from Thanet to Oxford. He is then no-platformed at a university and wants to reclaim his expenses. How many minutes of legal advice can he pay for before it becomes economically unviable to do so? Send your answer to the Office for Students, marked for the attention of the free speech tsar.

8. If the post work visa for international students is reduced to six months, how many PhDs must a non-UK student write to allow their spouse and children to enter the country long enough to watch an entire series of The Masked Singer? For extra points on your immigration application, make sure your PhD is in a STEM subject and that you are willing to pick fruit.

9. Nicola has a number cap on domestic student places. How many English students at £9,250 per head would a Scottish university have to recruit to ensure value-for-money for the purchase of a Zoom Pro account to continue to fill spaces on online courses months after the rest of the UK has gone back to teaching in person?

10. (i) Suella has banned noisy protests in the street, but Gillian has introduced a legal tort for free speech in universities. How many noisy protesters can the average university campus hold to ensure a safe space for anti-government demonstrations?

(ii) Express your answer in terms of the number of times per week an education minister would have to visit a university to facilitate that volume of noisy protest. Use Sam Gyimah as your baseline.

11. Kier and Rachel are designing a graduate tax. How many years can they put off announcing it before people start wondering whether they are just going to stick with the current fees and loans system?

12. In 2010, one year’s tuition fees on an undergraduate degree in England cost £9,000. Had fees risen with inflation, how much would a BA in sociology now cost? Give your answer as a percentage of the political capital that would have to have been expended to make that happen; use Cleggs as an International System of Units.

13. In 2023, if student maintenance loans continue to rise with a government-approved rate of inflation of 2 per cent, how mad is that? Express your answer as a sum of the total despair felt by students and parents during a historic cost-of-living crisis.

Section 4: International Finance

14. A target has been set for a country to spend 2.4 per cent of GDP on R&D by 2027. Produce a Venn diagram of everything that would need to be included to make that remotely possible without changing ONS methodology. Do not include the purchase of toasters or mobile phone top-ups. White lab coats and highlighter pens are permissible.

15. (i) If non-association with Horizon Europe has cost Oxford and Cambridge universities £130m per annum, how big a story is that for the broadsheet press?

(ii) How much bigger a story would it be if journalists at the Times and Telegraph had heard of the other 148 universities in the UK?

16. (i) George must spend £4.5bn earmarked for association with a cross-border R&D programme before the end of the Comprehensive Spending Review. What is his Plan B?

(ii) How much money will George be sending back to the Treasury as an underspend? Give your answer to the nearest billion pounds; alternatively, beat your head repeatedly against your desk in utter despair.

17. Rishi wants to do a deal with Ursula. How much money is he going to have to throw at the Democratic Unionist Party to get it through? Draw a pie chart to represent how big a slice is heading to East Belfast.

Section 5: Financial Engineering

18. Dominic has bought the wrong satellites at a cost of £400m to the public purse. They are then sold on to an EU rival. Calculate how low the bar of expectation has become for competent government in this country? Illustrate with examples from the sport of limbo dancing.

19. If universities have £40bn in reserves and staff ask for a pay rise of RPI plus 2 per cent, how long can you continue to spin the line that you are as poor as a church mouse who has just received a self-assessment tax bill on the day your spouse has run off with the rat next door taking all the cheese? Draw a diagram and use thought bubbles.

20. If the chair of the BBC introduces your cabinet secretary to a distant relation of yours willing to loan you a six-figure sum, how many times would you have to repeat the same after-dinner speech to repay the sum? Are you 100 per cent ding dang sure? Check your working. No need to provide evidence.

Section 6: Home Economics

21. If gold wallpaper costs £840 per roll, how much money can you save by buying a couple of tins of magnolia and a stencil kit from B&Q? Include your receipts and any honours offered as part of your calculation.

22. Lee thinks you can eat like a king for 30p per day. How many student food banks could be closed if only undergraduates knew how to budget properly?

23. If you must pay a fixed-penalty notice for every lockdown party you attended, how many police officers need to turn a blind eye so that you are only fined for being surprised by cake? Give your answer to two decimal places or the nearest Mr Kipling fondant fancy.

24. James was on a panel that has appointed the wife of Ben, a close political ally, to the directorship of a regulatory body. How many freedom of information requests are required before James is obliged to declare the background to this situation? 

25. If Boris earns £1m for four speaking engagements in 2023, and Rishi joins the after-dinner circuit in 2024, how much will Rishi be able to charge gullible American think tanks to talk about his experience of running a G7 economy into the ground? Express your answer in terms of the number of nurses who could be employed for that kind of money.

End of paper

Now turn over.

Now turn over again.

Congratulations, you have completed the Rishi Sunak U-Turn.

Degree-alternative apprenticeships in Trussonomics are available*

[*If your mother’s cousin knows the brother of the bloke in charge of the apprenticeship levy who happens to be a very good friend of Uncle Algernon.]

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