Laurie Taylor – 30 June 2016

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

June 30, 2016
People looking at sinkhole in road
Source: Getty
A Russell road?

Letters to the Editor

Dear Sir or Madam,

I’m in the lower sixth form and thinking about applying for an undergraduate place at your esteemed university. However, friends and relations tell me that I would be better off going to “a Russell Group” university. Could you please tell me the difference between a normal university and a Russell Group university and suggest which might be best for me?



Dear Perplexed,

If it’s good teaching you’re after, then it’s probably best to forget all about universities in the Russell Group. Only last week an analysis by the Times Higher Education data team using the core teaching excellence framework metrics found that Russell Group universities were outperformed on teaching quality by many smaller and post‑92 universities. You might particularly wish to avoid such extremely low-rated Russell Group campuses as Bristol (87th in the list), the London School of Economics (81st) and King’s College London (83rd).

But if you still fancy a Russell Group university, there are a couple of simple tests to help you check your suitability.

First, take a good look in the mirror. That reflection might help you to decide whether to apply to such Russell Group universities as Glasgow, Durham, Imperial College and King’s College London, where black applicants are now more than 5 percentage points less likely to receive an offer than they would have been back in 2015. And that reflection might also deter your application to Oxford, where students from an Asian background were 7.7 percentage points less likely to get an offer than would have been expected from Ucas data.

One final test. Take a look at the street outside your house. A bit run-down? Then it might be wise to forget all about Russell Group universities. New Ucas data show that students from the poorest backgrounds are up to 16 times less likely to win a place at a Russell Group university than their peers from the most advantaged neighbourhoods.

Let me leave you with the inspiring words of our very own logo: “When all else fails, there’s always Poppleton.”

Cry freedom

“What do we get for our membership?”

That was the question posed by Jamie Targett, our Director of Corporate Affairs, as he revealed that Poppleton was seeking to exit from Universities UK.

Targett told our reporter Keith Ponting (30) that our university’s newly initiated Freedom From Universities UK campaign (F-UUK) was a reaction to the increasingly undemocratic nature of an organisation that portentously described itself as the “voice of the universities”.

“Imagine how we might spend the lump sum that this university hands over every year to UUK. It’s enough to provide free balloons at staff Christmas parties, extra biscuits at committee meeting and subsidised strawberries and cream on degree days.”

But might exiting UUK mean that we could no longer participate in critical debates about the future of higher education?

Targett waved away any such concern. “There is no debate. The only sound that ever emanates from UUK is the rumbling of its senior members rolling over in the face of the latest government pronouncement.”

But should we give up our seat at the table?

“What table? Anyone who has spent time with UUK will confirm that the organisation is run by an unelected bunch of overpaid and bloated vice-chancellors who make all their decisions over expenses-paid brandy and sodas at the Athenaeum Club.”

At this point, Targett proudly unveiled the new 20-foot high F-UUK banner that will fly from our university cooling tower with the proud announcement: “WE’VE GOT OUR CAMPUS BACK”.

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