“Students have a place at Poppleton. But that place is not at the top table.”
This was the uncompromising response of Jamie Targett, our Director of Corporate Affairs, to what he called the “frankly astonishing news” that Goldsmiths, University of London had appointed a student with full voting rights to the remuneration committee that determines the salary of its principal, Patrick Loughrey.
Targett told our reporter Keith Ponting (30) that asking a student to help determine a vice-chancellor’s salary was as “manifestly absurd” as asking the regular user of a bagless vacuum cleaner to decide the annual emolument for Sir James Dyson.
In response to further questions, Targett admitted that Poppleton’s own remuneration committee did operate with “a degree of discretion”. He refused to confirm or deny that its only current members were the vice-chancellor himself and Sir Hartley Grossman, the chief executive of Poppleton Pork Products. Neither was he willing to be drawn on the suggestion from Ponting that the most recent meeting of the committee had taken place in Chomps Élysées, Poppleton’s leading French restaurant, or to confirm the rumour that the discussions that led to his 14 per cent salary increase had begun over the Escargots de Bourgogne and concluded well before the arrival of the Filet Mignon à la Bordelaise.
Targett did, however, point out that the head of Goldsmiths was described as a “warden” rather than a vice-chancellor. “It is perhaps predictable”, he observed, “that someone who shares their job title with a despised agent of traffic enforcement should endeavour to ingratiate themselves with anyone, including here-today-and-gone-tomorrow students.”
(We asked the vice-chancellor for a comment but were informed by his PA, Mrs Dilworth, that he was currently “preoccupied” with his Poire Belle Hélène.)
NSS a mess?
Suggestions in a recent Higher Education Funding Council for England report that the ever-higher and increasingly similar scores recorded by many institutions on the National Student Survey might “undermine the credibility” of that survey have been dismissed out of hand by our newly appointed Head of Student Survey Inducements, Maureen Freeby.
Ms Freeby said that such “excellent” survey results merely proved that the student experience went on improving year after year after year. The further news that 5 per cent of those surveyed gave exactly the same “definitely agree” answer to every single question was nothing more than a sign that some students were “so pleased with their experience” that they wanted to sound consistently positive irrespective of the actual question they were being asked.
(Ms Freeby tells us that she has several hundred small “tokens of appreciation” left over from her recent student survey inducement programme. These will be awarded to the person who provides the most accurate conclusion to the following sentence: “Poppleton is much, much better than all the other god-forsaken body and soul stinking universities in the entire country because…” Mark your entry “Mars Bar”.)
Thought for the week
(contributed by Jennifer Doubleday, Head of Personal Development)
Although our visiting psychoanalyst, Dr Jules Kvetch, is away on vacation until the end of August, I’m delighted to say that his couch is still available for those members of staff who may currently lack any significant Oedipal concerns but could do with a jolly good rest.