“Now everybody can be a research excellence framework winner!”
That was the exultant reaction of Dr Mike Goshworthy of our Department of Social Psychology to the news that his research into the psychological parameters of soft-boiled-egg-slicing behaviour among an inadequately controlled group of largely bored second-year students could now be entered for the next REF. “It’s all down to the Stern committee,” explained Dr Goshworthy. “As you know, that quite excellent committee has looked into the operation of the REF and concluded that in order to remove the ‘stigma of not taking part’, associated with the 2014 REF, universities ‘must submit all research-active academics for assessment in 2021’.”
Dr Goshworthy told The Poppletonian that his latest research had revealed significant personality differences between those students who preferred to slice their soft-boiled eggs from the big end and those who preferred to slice them from the small end. “The Stern committee recommendation now means that this finding will become available to an even wider audience,” he explained.
However, Brian Bryan, our deputy head of REF Strategy, said that while Poppleton’s plans for the 2021 REF were still “very much under wraps”, he anticipated that the only “wider audience” likely to become available to Dr Goshworthy would be the 250 first-year students he would be required to teach after his imminent translation to a teaching-only contract.
“Let’s face it,” added Mr Bryan, “once you’re stigmatised in today’s world of higher education, you stay stigmatised.”
Is nobody here? Then I’ll begin
Some sensitive teaching academics might regard low student attendances at their lectures as indicative of a personal failing, but no such anxieties affect Professor Gordon Lapping of our Department of Media and Cultural Studies.
Lapping told our reporter Keith Ponting (30) that he very much agreed with the anonymous contributor to Times Higher Education who had recently asserted that “the joy of teaching in higher education…is that one is (in theory) teaching only those keen to learn” and therefore one should “not take it as an act of disrespect when a student does not turn up for their class”.
But, wondered Ponting, did Professor Lapping not feel a mild sense of disrespect when, as had been the case with his recent lecture series on Marshall McLuhan: The Early Years, the only student in sight had been standing outside the lecture theatre bearing a placard with the phrase “Enter Here at your Peril”?
Professor Lapping shrugged off such concerns. The sign, he explained, was nothing more than a historic reference to the short period of time when students who chose to attend his McLuhan lectures had found themselves retained in their seats, not by the immediate quality of the lecture, but by what Professor Lapping called “the wholly inappropriate use of leg irons”.
Christmas party guidelines: no 1
Please note that the following songs should not be sung at staff Christmas parties:
Hark the Herald Angels Sing (Charles Wesley).
Land of Hope and Glory (Edward Elgar).
Rise and Smash the Power of University Management (Traditional).