University of Middle England Cancels Christmas after riotous party.

Sunday December twenty two 2069 

The University of Middle England (UME) campus saw more controversy yesterday when it was thrown into chaos as its traditional Christmas party spiralled out of control. Riot police were deployed throughout the night.

CEO of the University, Virginia Fox said “To enjoy freedom we have to control ourselves. Unfortunately any sense of control was totally missing last night”. Speaking from behind her dark glasses, and sporting a large bruise on her cheek, she wavered as she explained “The older one grows, the more one likes indecency. However, last night was going too far even for me. I have issued a warning to all staff and students today. Christmas is cancelled and everyone must be available first thing tomorrow morning to help with the clean-up. There are no exceptions. Everyone must work on Christmas day or leave the university

The details of what happened are sketchy at this stage, but the evidence of considerable destruction around the central campus area is all too clearly visible in the sunshine of a crisp December morning. 

I am standing in the central administration building overlooking what is now an eerily quite campus. A few stray dogs have just passed but no human beings can be seen. I am looking through shattered windows onto the smouldering remains of a burned out ambulance with its contents strewn along the main drag. However, it is not so out of place next to dozens of damaged cars, one ‘Autonomous Toiletmobile’ or ATM, that is still burning and the overturned section of a city tram that is inexplicably over a mile from its tram line on the other side of the campus.

Many of the buildings are badly damaged and an explosion seems to have destroyed the east wing of the Chemistry department that is still on fire. Other buildings suffered less damage as the main doors are still secured with heavy chains. The Philosophy Department is mostly a shell with books and computers scattered around; apparently having been ejected from windows on the upper floors. I can hear fire alarms and flashing lights sounding in the Engineering Block in the distance. But the four fire appliances outside do not appear to be doing anything as smoke rises from the roof area. For those old enough to have painful memories, it resembles the scenes seen across our cities late in 2019 after the ‘incident’.

What happened here?

I asked this question of several staff and students who I found nursing bruises and hangovers amongst the destruction of the main social and recreation building that is opposite the administration building. Its 1920s Art Deco style façade is blackened by smoke and looks like a scene from war torn Europe in 1945. One Humanities staff member, celebrated historian Professor Sarah Conor said that the traditional Christmas party had started normally “It has a reputation for being rowdy when students and staff alike let off steam for a few hours. But after about nine pm it seemed to escalate into sheer madness.
I certainly didn't see this coming”

Security manager Arnie Blackfield-Worker said “We took the usual precaution of locking and chaining most of the main buildings to contain the festivities to the central area only”. Blackfield- Worker, an impressively large man dressed in a black leather jacket and sporting cool sunglasses, stressed that his security detail was very tough and experienced along with the fearsome Hologuards deployed last night. Suddenly, he took a call on his cell and growled with disapproval “I eat students for breakfast. And right now, I’m very hungry!” before setting off on a vintage motorbike shouting to us “Hasta la vista, I’ll be back”.

The origins of the party.

Some students explained that holding a large party before Christmas was the brainchild of Professor Helmut Kabbagekopf. Unfortunately he was not available for comment as he was last seen running naked through the city streets being chased by a drone controlled Hologuard in the form of a grenadier guard in full dress uniform. 

The students explained that he was originally from the University of Lederhose in Bavaria and had started as a junior lecturer in UME twenty years ago. He immediately suggested a morale boosting party for all on campus. This was to be modelled on similar campus parties that had been a tradition for well over one hundred years in Germany. To cater for over 30,000 students and staff, a large catering and drinks operation had to be planned months in advance. The first party, held in December 2049, was a huge success. Empty glasses were sold with books of tickets to bypass the strict FUKS laws on the sale of alcohol. These were exchanged for refills from a large supply of beer barrels or lagers by willing volunteers. Ample food and snacks made by the students and staff themselves were supplied throughout the evening for free. The parties since then have been rowdy and loud but until yesterday they had also been good natured.

One  plausible rumour about the cause is circulating.

Some students from the Media and Technology department said that they had seen their former lecturer, Prof Brainie K
oks, at the party handing out home-made mince pies. He had recently been dismissed for refusing to supply ‘cookies’ for his class at a student teaching evaluation (Reported by Timeline 2069. Sunday December eight 2069 ‘Uproar at University of Middle England as lecturer is sacked for refusing to produce ‘cookies’ at traditional student teaching evaluation’). One said, “We are convinced that he has got his own back by lacing the mince pies with MDPV. We all saw him putting several plastic bags containing a white powder in his car when he left the campus".

MDPV (methylenedioxypyrovalerone) is a powerful stimulant that used to be called ‘monkey dust’ before it was totally banned in 2020. Mixed with alcohol, it causes people to believe they are super strong and induces a state of uninhibited destructive madness. This theory has gained some credence as the normally timid professor of philosophy, Fred Nitshite was seen at around eleven pm scaling the outside of the Life Sciences Tower shouting “Come out and fight if you think you’re clever enough!” He seemed to be addressing Biochemistry lecturer, Professor Bruce Wainson who was hanging upside down from an upper window in full academic dress screaming that he was batman.

Whatever the cause, there is no doubt that something extraordinary happened at UME last night. A large number of party goers had spread out from the party intent on destroying everything in their path. By midnight there was a state of emergency and the army was put on standby as riot police cordoned off the campus and moved in. But this was only after buildings were damaged and many cars, buses, an ATM, tram and an ambulance were hijacked and destroyed. The University will have to do more than just ‘cancel Christmas’ to restore its tarnished reputation.

By our war correspondent Oily Gearstick.

Does eating meat improve IQ? Food for thought perhaps.

Sunday December fifteen 2069

Why is the IQ of students still declining and are we eating enough meat? Here's some food for thought. 

The results of the 2069 cognitive ability and intelligence (Intelligence Quotient or IQ) survey of 18 year old students across the Western European Confederation of States (WECS) have just been released. They reveal a further 2% drop in the average IQ of both males and females over the last ten years. 

The results follow the earlier publication of a study which shows the long term decline in IQ may be due to us eating less meat. Whilst broader cognitive ability tests have varied over time since their introduction over 100 years ago, IQ tests have remained broadly similar and provide a valuable way to make comparisons back to the nineteenth century. The rise and fall in meat sales since then seems to be mirrored closely by the IQ measurements. Could this be a simple explanation? 

What are these meaty reasons?

The reason for the steady decline in IQ has eluded most research efforts till now and some observers say it has yet to be explained fully. This is because there have been many social changes over time that might also provide a clue. However, it is now certain that the decline in IQ has been continuous for nearly 100 years. Prior to that, the so called ‘Flynn Effect’ showed that IQ had risen steadily over most of the 20th Century. The effect was named after American James Flynn who was living in New Zealand in the late 1900s when he discovered that general intelligence had been rising across the globe in most advanced countries. However, it then became apparent that from around 1990 the effect had stalled and IQ was general declining. This first appeared in the cohort of students born in 1975. Initially, it was concluded that their education had changed suddenly due to the impact of the newly emerging information technology and the rise in use of social media platforms. However, by 2036 social media had been banned in schools across the emerging WEC States for children up to age thirteen. Furthermore, teaching of basic skills in maths and languages had reverted to ‘blackboards’ and the ‘talk and chalk’ methodologies used before 1975. Yet the decline continued and attention turned to other environmental factors.

Are environmental and dietary changes to blame?

Earlier this year, a comprehensive study of IQ changes since 1900 was published in the official journal of the Former UK States (FUKS) Society of Academic Knowledge and Education called the ‘FUKS SAKE Journal’. Authors Jack Ayesink and Fred Binit of the University of Middle England dismissed the role of genetics in the changes observed as proposed by some others. Ayesink said,

“The current count of genes associated with IQ stands at 16,042 and these are randomly distributed around the population. With the complete genome sequencing of all FUKS citizens in 2042, it was established that the distribution of differences in these genes, known as ‘polymorphisms’, was the same in all social groups”. 

He added that this distribution had not changed since 2042 despite the apparent continued fall in IQ levels.

Instead they turned their attention to possible environmental factors, such as industrial pollution and diet as the cause, with convincing results. Their  study (‘Diet and pollution and their effects on IQ over time’. Ayesink H J and Binit A. 2069. ‘FUKS SAKE Journal’ Vol 144 pp 26-57) firstly looked at industrial pollution measured as the ‘Pollution Index’ (see Figure 1).
The correlation with the increase in IQ was initially compelling. However, there was a clear divergence in the pattern in the latter half of the 20th Century.

Instead the correlation between increased meat sales and IQ was almost complete (see Figure 2).
The rise in vegetarian diets from the late 20th Century onwards coincided with a decline in IQ. The measurement of IQ was normalised at 100 for the  year 2000  data and all other years compared with that. Meat consumption was measured as average meat sales per person per month and corrected for current Bitcoin (₿)prices. Fred Binit said that “The increased consumption of meat has clearly affected the ability of the population overall and we should think about reintroducing meat to our diets”

Leda Thatis-Shallot of the FUKS Vegan Society confirmed that “The results seem very convincing but we should not blame a vegan lifestyle alone. The banning of genetically modified crops in 2029 and the reintroduction of pesticides to foods since then could be a major contributory factor”. Indeed some studies have shown that the use of insecticides, such as carbamates on food crops, in the latter half of the 20th century may have affected human behaviour through persisting in the food chain. But a vegan diet may not be the ‘food for thought’ as once thought.

But were the questions easier in the past?

Many observers insist that the questions have become harder when put into a modern technology context. To test this idea, Timeline 2069 conducted its own survey to see if some simple calculation questions, used one hundred years ago in 1969 in the UK, were easier. We asked the following three questions to twenty 18 year old University of Middle England students. We then managed to find eleven people born between 1960 and 1962 and asked them the same questions. Despite ages of between 107 and 109, and a combined age of 1,196 years, they were very capable. All eleven managed to answer the questions correctly in time. Can you do any better?

Question 1. You enter a shop and purchase three items priced 7s 4d, 10s 6d and 15s 3d. You offer a five pound note as payment. How much will you receive in return as change? Also, what is the minimum number of coins or notes that  you would expect in change from the shopkeeper?

For the 18 year olds we added that there are 12 pennies (d) to the shilling and 20 shillings (s) to the pound.

Question 2.
You are asked to divide a pail of milk equally between glasses for 16 people. The pail contains exactly one gallon of milk. How many gills of milk must you add to each glass so that everyone gets the same amount of milk? What is this in pints?

For the 18 year olds we added that there are 8 pints in a gallon and four gills in a pint.

Question 3. A horse in the Epsom Derby race completes the course of 1 mile and 4 furlongs in a time of 2 minutes and 40 seconds. What was the average speed of the horse in miles per hour (mph)?

For the 18 year olds we added that there are 8 furlongs in a mile.

Only three of the 18 year olds managed to get all three of the questions answered correctly in time. Another six completed the questions when given extra time. Four gave up at question one citing confusion over the currency. One, who wished to remain anonymous, said “I thought it would be easy but what’s all this shillings and pence c**p all about?”

In contrast, Jeremy Clarkson (108) said he helped out his parents in their tea cosie shop as a youngster and learned to work out the change in his head saying “We had to be quick to survive. One penny out and I was  locked in the coal shed all night with no tea. The youngsters of today get it too easy with computers and bitcoins and all that ₿******s. I still eat raw steak every day!”

By our Mensa correspondent Richard Clever RSCD

Uproar at University of Middle England as lecturer is sacked for refusing to produce ‘cookies’ at traditional student teaching evaluation.

Sunday December eight 2069

There was confusion and uproar on the campus of the University of Middle England today as news filtered out that a lecturer had been sacked for refusing to produce ‘cookies’ for his class in the annual Christmas student teaching evaluations. Media and Technology lecturer, Professor Brainie Koks, originally from Moddergat in the Netherlands, said that he had just been informed of his dismissal on the grounds that he was “Not willing to engage with students in the spirt and traditions of the university”.

CEO of the University, Virginia Fox, released a statement today that confirmed the decision.

“Professor Koks was dismissed today after a meeting with our disciplinary panel that concluded that he was no longer willing to engage positively with his students. The long-standing tradition of the university has been for academic staff to provide various confections prior to all student evaluations of staff performance and student surveys. Failure to comply represents a determination to lower the reputation of the university. It is unfortunate that someone has to 'die' in order that the rest of us should value 'life' more”.

Meanwhile Professor Koks has hit out strongly at the charge, “I have worked hard with my students on difficult topics and have reached the conclusion that my teaching should not be measured by the quality of my ‘cookies’. This tradition has perverted standards with a false competition amongst staff to produce the best cookies.”

One student, who wished to remain anonymous, said “we were all shocked when the professor turned up without biscuits and then provided convincing evidence of its perverse effects with figures from an old study. It was always a great event before Christmas and we were disappointed. However, he is a great lecturer and we respect his principled stand. So we all gave him extra marks for being so honest with us”. 

A former student observed "He always made his own cookies in his lab and to be honest they were usually terrible and I swear they tasted of chloroform. We used to pretend to eat them and bin them outside"

A tradition in question.

The tradition of staff providing ‘cookies’ for their students before surveys of teaching evaluation stretches back many years and is now normal practice at most of our universities. It has its roots in a study back in 2018 ‘Teachers who give cookie rewards score better in evaluations’. The positive impact of ‘cookies’ on evaluations was significant. Many more lecturers started using the inducement and it was an ad hoc arrangement for many years afterwards. It was only when data from a large study, involving over 22,000 students and 300 classes across the Alliance of Independent Provider (AIP) universities in 2031, was released that the practice became more formal and widespread. This was particularly important in the run up to Christmas near the end of classes in the first semester. The study’s report, ‘The application of confectionary based inducements to student evaluations of teaching’ revealed some surprising results *. There appeared to be a very significant advantage to producing the aptly named ‘Jammy Dodgers’ in preference to other types of biscuit or ‘cookie’. (Figure 1)

The heart shaped ones were marginally more effective with female students than the round ones that were more favoured by male students. Although carried out in the run up to Christmas, mince pies were excluded from the study. This was due to confusion amongst vegan students that they might actually contain mince meat. Indeed, present day ‘mince pies' normally do contain mince meat. Results from Scotland using Tunnocks tea cakes and ‘snowballs’ were excluded on the grounds that they were not readily available outside of Scotland.

Despite its popularity, the practice has been challenged over the years and many universities have now adopted formal guidelines for their staff. However, competition to produce the most popular ‘cookies’ has continued to be intense. The use of professional confectioners or ‘homemade’ cakes provided by grandparents has been discouraged. One incidence of providing ‘special cookies' laced with synthetic cannabis at the start of a lecture raised more serious concerns back in 2042 and this practice is explicitly banned on most campuses. Also in 2042, the race to produce ever more elaborate confections had reached its zenith with the release of the ‘World University Cookie Rankings’. However, the discovery of psychoactive chemicals being incorporated in some ‘cookies’ led to suspension of the rankings indefinitely.

* ‘The application of confectionary based inducements to student evaluations of teaching’ report of 2031, published by the AIP Press, is no longer available. We managed to get an exclusive copy from an unnamed lecturer at the University of Middle England.

By our cooking correspondent Mary Raspberry.

Fake Employers and Fake Jobs Revealed in 40 Year Papers.

Sunday December one 2069

The release of government papers in the last weeks under the 40 year rule have shed further light on the post 2019 'incident' era of chaos. Many papers from that time have yet to be released in the archive and most observers prefer to forget the period. Few will discuss it in a public forum. However, we have trawled through the papers relating to university finances in the ten year period from 2019 to 2029. They reveal a tale of miscalculation and financial skulduggery that should be a lesson for our generation. Some universities failed in the ashes of fake employers and fake jobs whilst others reinvented themselves in the private sector. It was easy to cover this up in the chaos that followed.

Employers ‘levies’ and the abolition of university fees. 

For at least ten years before 2020, students had to fully fund their university education. This involved paying fees of over £9,000 in the currency used before Bitcoins became the official tender. Most secured loans from the Student Loans Company that was set up by the government. Some with little family support were also able to access a small loan to cover their living expenses. They had thirty years to pay back the loans. In the chaos of 2019 and 2020, and with unemployment and public debt rising, the government realised that there would be little chance of a good return from the loans. Furthermore, private enterprise was no longer prepared to take them on. The plan to abolish university fees altogether took shape in the early days of the Socialist Conservative United Momentum (SCUM) Party. However, the projected cost was proving prohibitive as public debt mounted. The idea of replacing student loans with an employer’s levy was resurrected in 2018 and looked like an attractive way get around the problem. At the start of 2020, a scheme emerged whereby the government loaned vast sums of money to established universities who then taught students and tried to find them suitable employment at the end. Employers paid a ‘levy’ directly to the university and this income was used to pay off the institution's loan. The student was no longer liable to pay a loan back but was obviously paid less by the employer. Over several years, it was predicted that government loans would cease and the system would become ‘self- sustaining’. Employers were expected to pay the levy directly to the employers every time they employed a graduate and would do so as long as the graduate was employed by them.

Unleashing a storm of dubious contracts.

The immediate effect was the every university tried to establish formal relationships with employers. The major universities invited large corporations to register with them at a cost and offered to ‘screen’ their graduate’s for employment suitability. The employers were happy to take on graduates for trial periods on no more than two, one year contracts with no obligation to continue. With the employment laws and rights in tatters at the time, a range of dubious contracts emerged. We found communications and papers that showed one university expected all new entrants to sign an open-ended contract that tied the student to whatever employer the university could find after graduation. Another even looked for transfer fees from employers who sought good graduates already in a tied contract. This was often the only way that small employers, that could not afford to register at a university, could attract good gradates.

Other unintended effects.

Within a few years, there was a plethora of more unintended consequences. Some major employers moved their headquarters out of the UK, as it was then,  to avoid a levy. They instead employed UK graduates abroad, without incurring the levy, and 'seconded’ them back to the UK. Many smaller companies simply ceased to recruit graduates. Instead, they offered attractive packages to school leavers with good academic records and trained them in house. Some students started to find that they were recruited after graduation for limited periods. Many were made redundant within two years without any redundancy payment. For those left, they found themselves tied to poor contracts as their employer tried to buy themselves out of the levy. Cash strapped universities took the money when they could. Those dismissed were in limbo with a tied contract and no employer. Often the students themselves had to buy themselves out of the arrangement. Many sought employment abroad to avoid this and with most corporate headquarters now outside of the UK, this was becoming an attractive option.

Another tactic used by employers was to employ more graduates from universities overseas. Student from the UK soon noticed this and in turn set out to find a university elsewhere in Europe (then the European Union countries) and the USA (then a single union of states). Low fees and various scholarships were more attractive and many institutions offered more and more  incentives. Indeed some employers helped students through partial funding and sponsorship. This would prove to be much cheaper in the long run if they intended to keep graduates for a greater time.

Many universities also needed to employ graduates but found those from other universities were more costly because of the levy. They could absorb the levy in house by employing their own graduates. This had a devastating effect on research opportunities for UK graduates as even more were recruited from overseas.

 A darker side emerged.

Within five to six years, it became clear that a number of universities were in grave financial trouble. They were not attracting employers or students in sufficient numbers. We have seen disturbing reports of several setting up deals with so called ‘employers’ that were simply fronts for their own operation. One had students sign contracts with an 'employment agency' that they had set up themselves and ‘farmed’ the graduates out. Using funds from the government loans available at the outset, several had been caught offering 'incentives' to employers to take their graduates. In one case the employer was using a university 'agency' and taking a ‘kick back’ paid out of the employed student’s pay. In another case, it turned out that a university had set up ‘spin out' companies solely to employ graduates and create the impression of success. Many were wound up within two years. These tactics failed spectacularly and by 2028 there were 32 universities declaring insolvency. They would never pay back the government loans. By then the government had totally lost control and with no overall party in power the situation drifted.

Independent providers step in.

This was how the Alliance of Independent Provider (AIP) universities first emerged. It was a commercial consortium of investors that quickly snapped up the failing institutions and acquired their considerable assets at a knock-down price. They then sought to rebuild the operations outside of government control. Many students were left seeking other places or, if they could afford it, were allowed to continue by paying fees directly to their institution. 

A plan to bring the remaining universities back under government financial control was hatched in 2030 and the rest is history.

By our education correspondent. Sean Cogwheel

Origins of the Rees-Mogg Registry and world standardisation of units

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