In these straitened times, imaginative ideas for swelling the public coffers are worth their weight in gold. And who better to turn to than our man for all seasons, Sir Andrew Cubie, the architect of Scotland's student fee regime and much else besides.
He points out that, in 1826, students were charged a set fee for an arts degree - with a 10 per cent discount for those studying divinity. And in 1701, fees from gambling were used to fund the library at Edinburgh University.
Sadly, last week's Swinney budget failed to learn the lessons of history.
McCrone mark II
On top of speculation about who will head up the successor body to HMIE and Learning and Teaching Scotland, we now have another name to play with: the new McCrone.
National purseholder Swinney has given us a further review of teachers' pay and conditions, under an independent chair. And who is likely to be more independent - and steeped in history - than Sir Andrew Cubie?
Mining a rich seam
Mail from the Scottish Qualifications Authority has recently been carrying the postmark of Lady Victoria Colliery Newtongrange, making recipients wonder if the Dalkeith-based body has gone underground, perhaps to escape quango-hunters. The explanation is simple: SQA's warehouse is located in the Scottish Mining Museum at Newtongrange, and letters sent from there by TNT (the logistics firm, not the explosive) bear the colliery postmark. The exam body leases a building that used to store mining records.
A miner story, perhaps.
The ubiquitous Keir Bloomer is clearly not a Sun fan. But, speaking at a recent Curriculum for Excellence conference, he lamented the fact that many leave school with literacy skills that will not even allow them to cope with the short sentences and three-word headlines offered by the tabloid.
Still, Bloomer acknowledges that he has learnt something from the edition that makes up part of his PowerPoint presentation: that he stands a chance of surviving a knife attack. The headline "Saved by the belly" introduces an item beginning: "Mum survives knife attack ... thanks to fat tum".
No default of his
Our Education Secretary had better be careful when he refers to inheriting problems. Were these caused by his party colleague and predecessor Fiona Hyslop, Labour's Ken Macintosh asked Michael Russell in the parliamentary debate on Curriculum for Excellence.
Mr Russell likes to chide MSPs for being partisan and he regretted that Macintosh forced him to blame the previous Labour administration. Now, he continued grandly, "I revert to the positive Mike Russell, which is my natural default position."