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Exam season


Ivory Tower: you may turn over your papers for another testing time

Assessment for the degree of:

MBA university management*

[after the exam, students funded via the apprenticeship levy should take a good long look in the mirror]

*Subject to validation, this qualification may be removed at short notice if the person running it has not ordered their paperclips properly for a quality assurance committee called QUIC or QUAC or some such nonsense.

[Disclaimer: Your responses may or may not get looked at as part of a marking and assessment boycott by academic staff. Maybe you could mark it yourself. That’s what would happen during a junior doctors’ strike or on the railways—you’d have to go out and punch tickets on the platform. Still don’t want to make a better pay offer?]

Module 101: How to run a university

Section 1: Policy and Practice

1. Which of the following has not served as an education secretary?

a. Nadhim Zahawi
b. Gavin Williamson
c. Gillian Keegan
d. Michelle Donelan
e. Kit Malthouse
f. James Cleverly
g. Can you run that list past me again?
h. Depends on what you mean by served.

2. What is the current value of undergraduate tuition fees?

a. £9,250
b. Not what it used to be
c. An absolute joke
d. Probably around £6,500 in real terms
e. I object to this as an English-centric question
f. A bigger problem for the Labour Party
g. Remind me again why I want to be a university manager

3. Since 2010, which minister has had oversight of universities?

a. The Minister of State for Skills, Apprenticeships and Higher Education
b. The Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Skills, Further and Higher Education
c. The Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Skills
d. The Minister of State for Higher and Further Education
e. The Minister of State for Universities
f. The Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation
g. The Minister of State for Universities, Science and Cities
h. Cities? You’re having a laugh
i. All of the above
j. Are you including Andrea Jenkyns in that because I don’t think she counts
k. I object to this as an English-centric question

Section 2: University Finances

4. What is the name of the pension scheme for university staff?

a. The Universities Superannuation Scheme
b. The Teachers’ Pension Scheme
c. The Local Government Pension Scheme
d. The NHS Pension Scheme
e. This is more complicated than I thought
f. The Mutually Assured Destruction Scheme
g. Those two student flats you bought on the road behind the sports hall
h. I’m waiting to inherit from mother
i. Death in service seems preferable and plausible

5. What is depreciation?

a. An accounting method used to allocate the cost of a tangible or physical asset over its useful life
b. A way of massaging your budget into surplus before you have to go to a meeting with your board
c. What happens when you do not like a piece of art or music
d. How your staff feel about you
e. Undervalued
f. I’m beginning to think I should have studied for this exam

6. Which of the following is not an income stream for a university?

a. Undergraduate tuition fees
b. Postgraduate tuition fees
c. International student tuition fees
d. Research income
e. Knowledge exchange income
f. Halls of residence rents
g. Conferences and retail services
h. Library fines
i. A gift from a Russian oligarch for a new “translation centre” named after that young companion they turned up with
j. Did you say “is not” or “should not be”?
k. Parking fines
l. Docking staff wages during industrial action
m. Thanks from the university minister for all the hard work you did during the pandemic

Section 3: Learning and Teaching

7. What is the Office for Students for?

a. Good question
b. Regulatory oversight of higher education providers
c. Providing content for Lords select committee investigations
d. Providing jobs for friends of Gavin Williamson
e. Ensuring free speech on campuses
f. Clamping down on free speech on student panels
g. Somewhere to store all the old HEFCE files
h. Holding the value of government real estate in Bristol
i. To give vice-chancellors one thing they can all agree on

8. What leads to the highest salary?

a. Medicine
b. Law
c. Mathematics
d. Economics
e. Architecture
f. Education [hint: it’s not this one]
g. Nursing [hint: not this one either]
h. A lecture tour of the US as a disgraced former prime minister
i. Sitting in the room—purely as an observer, of course—when the board is setting your remuneration for the year

9. Which of the following is the best thing to invest in for the student experience?

a. Lectures
b. Seminars
c. Online learning
d. Work placements
e. Scholarships
f. A new gym and swimming pool complex
g. Loft-style apartments with plasma screen and a fussball table
h. A new administration building named after your spouse
i. A corporate membership at the Atheneum so you can network with others also wondering about this question

Part 4: Research and Knowledge Exchange

10. When was the last time you did some research?

a. Bit of a personal question
b. This week
c. Last week
d. Last month
e. Last year
f. When I used to have a life
g. PhD
h. Master’s dissertation, does that count?
i. I looked on TripAdvisor for a dinner recommendation
j. A lot of thought went into choosing that BMW

11. In UK universities, which of the following does not help cover the cost of research?

a. International student fees
b. Gifts and donations
c. All those arts students you’ve piled high, leaving the place down the road without a viable cohort
d. Mugs prepared to pay that kind of money for an MBA from your business school
e. That rent hike in the student halls
f. Do you want the real answer or what we say in the TRAC return?
g. The bucket you pass round at graduations for a silver collection
h. Service charges for companies renting space in the science park
i. An actual research grant

12. What would be the best name for a UK alternative to Horizon Europe?

a. Pioneer
b. Persevere
c. Oh God, I want to cry
d. Endure
e. Remain
f. Isolation
g. George Freeman’s gala bingo
h. Alan Turing something, something, something
i. Over the rainbow
j. I’m a researcher get me out of here

Part 5: Soft Skills

13. What is a university’s biggest asset?

a. Its staff
b. Its students
c. Its contribution to knowledge
d. Its contribution to society
e. Free gym membership
f. The stationery cupboard and all that free photocopying
g. Its ability to borrow money at low interest rates secured against resources paid for by the taxpayer
h. The parking spaces, especially if you are just nipping into town on a Saturday
i. You, you handsome devil

14. Which is not an appropriate way to address the chair of the board of governors?

a. Your Holiness
b. Mother
c. Dave
d. Your magnificence
e. Your most reverend excellency
f. Didn’t you used to be on the telly?
g. Gaffer
h. Don Carlo
i. That back-stabbing, two-faced, jumped-up little toad

15. After a period as a vice-chancellor, which of the following will you not be qualified for?

a. A lump sum
b. A Knighthood/Damehood
c. A CBE at least, but come on you’d be a bit disappointed by that
d. A seat on an education quango
e. A seat on the board of a private provider
f. A seat on the veranda of your holiday home
g. A free library card
h. A parking space for life
i. Interim work in the arms trade
j. Lobbying for the education industry
k. Lobbying for the payday lender industry

End of paper

Mark your multiple-choice answers on the form provided.

Now rearrange the letters to make a word that best describes the chair of the board of governors.

Candidates who achieve a mark of less than 50 per cent will be invited to interview, where they will be offered a senior position at the Department for Education.

Terms of use: this is a free email for fun on a Friday. It should be shared among colleagues like a leaving card for a minister at the justice department or a chairman of the BBC. Want to apply for the MBA in university management summer school? Want to say hello? Email ivorytower@researchresearch.com