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Reach for your ring-binders

Standing in the queue with my various pieces of paper to pay my road tax the other day, I noticed the Post Office logo standing proud. "Post Office - for the small things that make the big things happen," if I recall correctly.

The implication, I presume, is that if we want to do the important things, we must first provide someone with a few pieces of paper to process.

In the world of further education, this red tape comes in the form of applying to the Learning and Skills Council for funding.

It is possible, though, to use such senseless bureaucracy to your own advantage. Allow me to explain.

A friend of mine told me an interesting story about a BBC film crew in India. Of course, they know all about red tape in India - they picked up the habitfrom Britain, where pieces of paper have been keeping civil servants in gainful employment for many generations.

Anyway, the crew turned up one day to a government office to ask for permission to film.

The man on the front desk was mightily impressed with the fact they were from the BBC. Nevertheless, he explained that the official they needed to see was a "very busy man" and that he would not be available until the following day.

So they returned the next day, only to be greeted once again with the explanation that the official was a "very busy man" and that they would have to wait yet another day.

On the third day, you guessed it, they got the "very busy man" treatment all over again.

This farcical situation went on for nearly a week, after which the film crew sought some advice from the British Council.

"Do you have a folder?" asked the British Council.

"Well, yes," explained the crew, somewhat bemused.

The British Council advised the crew to fill the folder with any documents which came to hand and present it at their next visit to the government office.

So a handsome ring-binder was hurriedly filled with film-scripts, expenses claims, memos and any other available documents.The crew duly returned to the government office and handed over the bulging folder.

"Oh, you have papers," exclaimed the excited young man on the front desk, the pitch of his voice ascending into a squeal of delight.

Then he hurried off into the official's office nearby.

Within minutes, the crew got their appointment and, soon after, their permission to film.

So, next time you need some co-operation from the LSC, all your college needs to do is dig some old papers out of the waste bin and present them to the LSC. In a nice folder, of course.

Well, it might work.

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