Laurie Taylor – 8 September 2016

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

September 8, 2016
University vice-chancellor in cap and gown smiling and laughing
Source: Rex/Getty montage

A message from the vice-chancellor

Welcome back from your statutory leave!

Time to turn our thoughts to the forthcoming academic year.

While you’ve been away, there’s been lots of activity on campus. As you may have read, Poppleton was not one of those so-called “greedy opportunistic” universities like Exeter that decided to raise its tuition fees even before Parliament had finished debating plans to increase the tariff.

But that didn’t mean that we were about to become stingy with our resources. Oh no. All our new first-year students will be gifted a free pencil case and offered a place in the Poppleton FC first team for the coming season. Come on, you Blues!

Time now, though, for two rather special greetings:

Greeting to all our teachers

Welcome back! How are you all? Here’s hoping that you had a wonderful break and have returned to work with your batteries recharged.

Look, let’s not beat about the bush. In the past, your enormous contribution to this great university might not seem to have been properly respected. Indeed, you might even have gained the impression that you were very much second-class citizens compared with those colleagues who devoted their entire time to knocking out research articles. Goodness knows, you might even have come to believe that the new designation “teaching only” was not so much a job description as a mark of Cain.

How wrong can you be? The truth is that here at Poppleton we truly love and respect our hard-working teaching staff. But more than that, we now want you to be truly loved by your students. So always greet them with a smile and a few words of encouragement. And always remember that even if your lectures and seminars are as dull as ever, you can still get top ratings in the National Student Survey by handing out top grades to one and all.

And always also bear in mind that top marks from students mean top marks on the brand-new teaching excellence framework.

PS: In the light of new research evidence showing that female teachers and teachers from ethnic minorities are less likely to receive top teaching ratings from students, we very much regret that members of both these teaching groups will now be designated “research only”.

Greeting to all our researchers

Look, let’s not beat about the bush. As a contributor to the research excellence framework, you’ve had it very much your own way over the past few years. Quite frankly, we’ve let you get away with virtually no teaching or administration and rewarded you with promotions and extra increments just as long as you went on knocking out an almost endless stream of research articles.

No doubt about it, you’ve had us over a barrel. Any hint that we might cut down on those benefits has had you racing straight to HR, threatening to take your fat bundle of publications to any old university that might be prepared to make you a better job offer.

Well, all that is now over. Oh yes. Thanks to the admirable report from Lord Stern, you’re no more able to play your little game. No longer can you hawk your research wares from campus to campus like some high-class tart. From now on, you (and your precious research) are stuck at Poppleton. Enjoy!

An apology

In last week’s Poppletonian, we noted that a number of Russell Group universities had not yet signed up for the teaching excellence framework on the grounds that this exercise might expose their teaching inadequacies and thus militate against any increase in tuition fees and ensure their demotion in the university league tables. We now realise that we should have written “a large number of Russell Group universities”.

We apologise for the error.

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