Laurie Taylor – 28 January 2016

The official weekly newsletter of the University of Poppleton. Finem respice!

January 28, 2016
Group of men reading from notice board
Source: Alamy
‘Would it be easier to understand in Welsh?’

Yet another HR triumph

“Bravo, Aberystwyth!”

That was the enthusiastic response from Louise Bimpson, our Corporate Director of Human Resources, when she learned from an internal document that the HR department of one of mid-Wales’ leading universities is to make fundamental changes in order to ensure that “its services are aligned to the strategic needs of the university”.

Ms Bimpson reserved special praise for the manner in which the Aberystwyth HR department had chosen to explain this strategic change to the rest of the university. “No one”, she said, “could possibly claim to be ill-informed about exactly what was happening after reading the following sentence from the change document”:

While the initial Phase I changes are being introduced in January 2016 and we would ask that you please be aware that we continue to implement other new ways of working and system workflows to support them, this will include automated replies about the progress of your enquiry if this could not be answered at source and we are working with Information Services to introduce the Customer management system

Ms Bimpson brushed aside our reporter’s suggestion that this sentence “might not yield its full meaning” on first reading. “That sort of carping objection”, she said, “dates back to the time when HR managers were nothing but run-of-the-mill, plain-speaking personnel officers. In today’s management-oriented, ever-expanding HR world a certain degree of incomprehensibility is an essential way of confounding those cynics who might otherwise wonder how quite so many HR people ever manage to fill their time at work.”

  • If you feel you have been personally affected by any of the issues raised in this article and would like professional advice, please contact Poppleton’s very own HR department between 10.30 and 10.45 this Thursday morning quoting this reference: PX1972/4B/983002/ DC34299.

Businessman holding number twelve (12) scorecard

Putting the teeth into the TEF

“If we all pull together then one day the TEF will be regarded with the same degree of personal affection and methodological respect as is currently accorded to the REF.”

These fighting words were used by our newly appointed Head of TEF Submissions, Mr Ted Chippings, as he responded to those critics who recently pointed out that the use of the National Student Survey to provide key data on teaching quality was fundamentally flawed. Not only was there sound evidence that students gave their highest marks for teaching to those teachers who were most generous with their own marking, but there was now equally powerful evidence that students who were taught by black or ethnic minority academics were less likely to rate their teaching positively.

Both these minor defects, claimed Mr Chippings, could be readily solved by recourse to anonymity. In an ideal TEF situation, individual lecturers would be referred to by number rather than by name on the official timetable. They would also further disguise their real identity by ensuring that they were fully concealed behind the lectern during actual lectures and would only address their student audience through what he described as “a Stephen Hawking voice box”.

“We can feel confident that this new measurement of teaching ability is fully valid and reliable”, said Mr Chippings, “only when we have totally eradicated any way in which a lecturer might display anything resembling individuality.”

Jennifer Doubleday is considering her future.

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