“An apology too far!”
That was how our Head of Curriculum Development, Janet Fluellen, responded to the news that Patrick Johnston, vice-chancellor at Queen’s University Belfast, had apologised for telling the Belfast Telegraph that his university wanted to concentrate on subjects with social “relevance”. “Society doesn’t need a 21-year-old who is a sixth century historian,” Professor Johnston asserted. “It needs a 21-year-old...who has the potential to drive society forward.”
Ms Fluellen said that Professor Johnston’s original statement not only displayed an acute awareness of the contemporary function of universities but was also very much in line with current thinking at Poppleton where all courses were required to take an advanced driving test before being offered to students. Any subjects – she instanced such “regressive exemplars” as history, archaeology, philosophy and Classics – that even occasionally used the rear-view mirror were replaced by more forward-oriented disciplines.
Indeed, said Ms Fluellen, the only time Poppleton academics now ever took a step backwards was after kissing the chancellor’s ceremonial ring at the annual degree ceremony.
Defending the Russell Group
Regular readers will know that the relationship between our university and the Russell Group has been strained ever since leading members of that group blackballed our vice-chancellor’s fifth attempt to secure membership of the Athenaeum Club. But that rebuff has not deterred Nancy Harbinger, our Deputy Head of Student Experience, from issuing a stout defence of the group.
Ms Harbinger told The Poppletonian that she was aware of the annual student academic experience survey conducted by the Higher Education Policy Institute and the Higher Education Academy and readily accepted the survey finding that Russell Group institutions tended to have the lowest scores on measures of teaching quality. But she did not believe this finding should necessarily deter students from applying to Russell Group universities.
“While it may be true”, said Ms Harbinger, “that as an undergraduate you will be taught less well at a Russell Group university, you will always have the consolation of knowing that you’re in touching distance of some very fine former teachers. They’ll be just along the corridor from you, busily preparing their next research excellence framework submission.”
Management-speak: new series
In recent months, a number of academics have complained to The Poppletonian about their inability to understand the language employed in management communications.
In this new series we will seek to remedy this unfortunate situation by providing some classic examples of NML (New Managerial Language) together with an appropriate translation from our very own Professor of Hermeneutics, Dr C. G. Manifest.
This week’s example comes from an announcement about a new approach to incident management recently issued by the registrar of the University of Swansea.
“Implementation will not only be conducted in collegiate nature, but will be driven forward through a process of continuous improvement taking a phased approach to full operating capability.”
Professor Manifest’s translation:
“We’ll be doing it in stages.”
If you have other examples of NML that might benefit from translation by Professor Manifest, please forward them to The Poppletonian, marking your communication “Prolix”.