The Office for Students (OfFS); an Orwellian curiosity located within its carbon-neutral, architectural award winning, many windowed new complex down Diagon Alley.

In the penthouse twelve carefully selected volunteers sit around their roundtable overseen by a mysterious and dangerous sounding overlord. Never seen, this Master of the Twelve exists behind a set of beautifully carved wooden doors which if opened eject plumes of green smoke which legend has it will melt you in seconds (the reality is a fairly normal looking fellow sat in front of a bank of spreadsheets – but perception is everything dear reader).

Out of town a renegade band of academics, feeding off scraps of research funding, shelter in dark, cold corners whispering about how they could make themselves heard. “Where is our champion?” they shout into the wilderness, the words swallowed in the wind before anyone can hear them.

This is not a good combination; conflict is inevitable. A war fought on many fronts for the soul of what should be a ‘higher’ education. Or perhaps it’s more than that, battles for actual souls.

Questions remain on both sides however if the enemy is really the other, or if there may be some greater force, a common enemy to which their energies should really be pointed. For a grey, slightly damp, autumn is coming. Hidden behind a wall of call centres and satisfaction surveys, something is stirring; no-one knows what.

It was against this background that Ass Prof Ainsley Chewtaar peddled his way into work one fine winter’s morning. He’d had a reasonable night’s sleep after reviewing some piss poor attempt at a paper that he’d meant to get back to the journal six weeks ago. He was feeling rather smug about his cryptic ‘anonymous’ comments to the authors and slightly lighter in the shoulder area having had a good rant to the editor about how the subject never really progressed, and how these authors in particular should know better.

The story will continue (once I’ve had a bit more sleep)…

“What? Pensions you say? Sorry, no idea mate, is something going off?”…

Prof J