Are you looking at me?

May 14, 2009

Although Poppleton has acknowledged the concerns of the Higher Education Policy Institute by increasing personalised contact time with students by 0.62 per cent, a new student survey suggests that some of this "face-to-face" time may be vitiated by "unilateral looking".

According to the survey, 34 per cent of academics spent their face-to-face time staring at the ceiling of the tutorial room or attempting to read a book under the desk. Some 22 per cent shut their eyes and seemed to sleep, while 19 per cent sent personal texts.

All this could end with the campus-wide introduction of the ODD (optical directional device), a metal stand with a solid chin rest that keeps the academic facing the student at all times. The chance of sleep occurring is vitiated by the ODD delivering intermittent small electric shocks.

Our Deputy Director of Student Experience, Nancy Harbinger, called the ODD a "technological breakthrough that will do much to redress the traditional inability of academics to recognise their own students".

Sink or swim?

Our vice-chancellor has roundly condemned the announcement by Bath Spa University that it will be inviting its senior management to volunteer for redundancy ahead of other staff.

Speaking to our reporter, Keith Ponting (30), he described the move as "seriously short-sighted" and insisted that Poppleton's recent decision to employ another 22 HR staff was "thoroughly justified" by the "very real human resources issues raised by the university's current strategic policy of sacking as many academics as possible".

"Always remember," he told Ponting, "that when the ship is going down, it is more important than ever that there are sufficient numbers on the bridge to steer it in the right direction."

Match of the Day

An exciting contest is promised next Wednesday when a five-a-side team drawn from the UCU's new Redundancy Avoidance Committee will take on a team from the university's long-established Redundancy Implementation Committee.

Although this will be the first meeting between the "Avoiders" and the "Implementers", experts predict an easy victory for the Implementers, whose captain and midfield enforcer, Jamie Targett, can point to an unbroken winning run of 73 involuntary redundancies.

Lie back and relax

Maureen, the Departmental Secretary, Media and Cultural Studies, has welcomed the Procurement Committee's approval of her request for a couch in the Inquiries Office.

She said the decision was a timely acknowledgement of the observation by Mary Evans of the LSE's Gender Institute that the former counselling role of personal tutors was increasingly being taken over by secretarial staff. Although she had been happy to add this new role to her modest administrative load, she felt that requiring severely traumatised students to outline their problems while standing up in the photocopying room was "therapeutically inappropriate".

The new couch will replace the two armchairs in the Inquiries Office that have traditionally accommodated members of staff completing their daily sudoku puzzles.

Thought for the Week

(contributed by Jennifer Doubleday, Head of Personal Development)

"If you stand on the bottom rail of a bridge and lean over to watch the river slipping slowly away beneath you, you will suddenly know everything there is to be known."

(Please check with Health and Safety before trying this one at home.)

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