An apology

February 7, 2013

In last week’s special Poppletonian article on the vital role played by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (hereafter Hefce) in assessing the corporate and financial governance of new applicants for university title, we confidently asserted that such assessment was made only “after a full and extended meeting of the Hefce board”.

Following recent developments involving the College of Law, we now realise that such essential board meetings can readily be replaced by a mere exchange of correspondence if the applicant for university title turns out to be a for-profit college that is, subject to the university title being approved, about to be bought for £200 million by a private equity company.

In these circumstances, speed is obviously of much greater importance than extended assessment by the Hefce board, and we can only be grateful that the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (hereafter Willetts) was on hand to enforce this newly emergent principle.

We regret our mistake and apologise wholeheartedly for the misguided assumption that for-profit providers of higher education are treated in exactly the same manner as other applicants for a university title. Weren’t we silly?

Let’s talk about me

Our Deputy Head of Prospectus Management, Angela Topping, has vigorously challenged the assertion by Alison Wolf, the director of the newly established International Centre for University Policy Research at King’s College London, that the academy does “amazingly little empirical research on itself”.

In fact, said Ms Topping, it was only through doing “research on itself” that Poppleton had established itself as one of the leading universities in the country. “Without such research we would never, for example, have known about the stupendous degree of satisfaction expressed by our students about every aspect of life at Poppleton.”

Neither was such extended research confined to our own university. Ms Topping said that one had only to glance at any university prospectus to realise that every other UK university had also done such research and - in what she called “a minor triumph of empirical science” - come up with absolutely identical results. In these circumstances, said Ms Topping, one could only conclude, pace Professor Wolf, that “no more research was needed”.

Waking the dead

“It could be a major sensation.” That was how our Head of Archaeology, Leonora Pullover, described the discovery of ancient human remains several feet below the surface of the vice-chancellor’s reserved parking space.

Dr Pullover was alerted to the discovery several weeks ago, but her academic interest had only been aroused when it was revealed that the human skeleton belonged to a very tall woman with what remained of a mane of reddish hair.

She had then ordered further excavations, which eventually produced a small collection of scythes. It was at this point that she realised the potential significance of the discovery. Could the body belong to none other than an ancient queen?

Relevant DNA tests were now being conducted, and Dr Pullover said that she hoped to call an extraordinarily large press conference in the near future so that the results could be dramatically announced in a manner that would draw the maximum attention to her own department and to Poppleton University.

In answer to further questions, Dr Pullover denied that her first words upon discovering the proper extent of the remains were: “Bugger Leicester and Richard III. We’ve got Boudicca.”

Thought for the week

(contributed by Jennifer Doubleday, Head of Personal Development)

Next week’s meeting of the Over-60s Professor Darby and Doctor Joan Club will discuss the distinctive architecture of Poppleton University. Please apply in the usual way, marking your email: ‘Erectile Dysfunction’

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