Laurie Taylor – 21 April 2016

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

April 21, 2016
Man standing on the edge of an eroded cliff
Source: Alamy
What do you mean, precarious?

Another first!

“Well done, everybody!”

That was the reaction of Louise Bimpson, the corporate director of our ever-expanding HR team, to the news that, according to data obtained by the University and College Union from the Higher Education Statistics Agency, our university has come top of the new “insecurity ranking” as determined by the proportion of its staff employed on flexible or atypical contracts.

Ms Bimpson told our reporter Keith Ponting (30) that it had not been an easy victory. Poppleton had faced tough competition from such other notoriously insecure universities as Bath, East Anglia, Lancaster, Kent, Oxford, Plymouth, Stirling and Warwick.

But she believed that Poppleton had finally triumphed because it could not only boast having more than 60 per cent of its academic staff on precarious contracts but also because her HR department regularly increased insecurity among remaining members of staff by sending out veiled threats about the consequences of failure to perform well in the research excellence framework and the forthcoming teaching excellence framework.

But, wondered Ponting, was it wholly appropriate for Poppleton to brag about having more insecure academic staff than any other university?

Ms Bimpson had no doubts. “You have to understand that academic staff are only too happy to work on flexible contracts,” she explained. “It gives them a wonderful opportunity to combine teaching or research with such other types of gainful employment as selling small sprigs of lucky heather.”

A truth universally acknowledged

Jamie Targett, our highly respected Director of Corporate Affairs, has firmly rejected the contention by Dr Robin Shields that it may be inappropriate to use the term “world class” to characterise the qualities of any specific university.

According to Dr Shields, senior lecturer in higher education management at the insecure University of Bath, “the ‘world-class’ category” is “something which is talked into being rather than something that exists externally”.

Targett admitted that the term “world class” appeared 42 times in our current prospectus with reference to such diverse campus phenomena as the new hand-washing facilities in David Willetts College, the plastic-bottomed Biology pond and our vice-chancellor’s annual emolument. There would, he acknowledged, be grounds for concern if any of these claims could be shown to be misleading.

But he insisted that there was no such likelihood as each of these world-class assertions had been independently verified by our very own world-class Marketing Department.

Book jacket, The Theory and Practice of Self-Destruction by Reg Thanatos, Doomsday Press, 2015

What are you reading?

Professor Gordon Lapping of our Department of Media and Cultural Studies is reading The Theory and Practice of Self-Destruction by Reg Thanatos (Doomsday Press, 2015).

“Although I’ve recently read a number of books on how best to reach that undiscovered country from whose bourn no traveller returns, this is by far the most comprehensive. Whereas other texts can easily become too preoccupied with such popular methods of self-dispatch as hanging, poisoning and leaping from great heights, Dr Thanatos is equally at home with self-immolation, starvation, jumping into volcanoes and the most efficacious way of introducing an asp into one’s bosom. Highly recommended for all those who cannot think about pre-Willetts universities without bursting into floods of bitter tears.”

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