Big Poppleton welcome for new UUK approach

September 15, 2011

Kirk Swavely, our Senior Manager of External Relations, has welcomed the "brave" policy stance recently adopted by Eric Thomas, the new president of Universities UK.

Swavely told our reporter Keith Ponting (30) that whereas in the past UUK had gone out of its way to avoid confrontation with ministers and had sought to influence policy by being at the table and working together with government, Professor Thomas had "bravely" announced that he would go out of his way to avoid confrontation with ministers and would seek to influence policy by "being at the table" and working together with government.

What made this decision so courageous, Mr Swavely argued, was the knowledge that it was this very policy stance that had in the past allowed UUK to roll over on its stomach and accept practically any government idea placed before it, no matter how financially absurd or educationally misguided.

Mr Swavely believed that the president's stance might also help to ensure that when UUK next rolled over in the face of a government policy proposal, it would do so while simultaneously wearing its traditional self-satisfied smile.

'Pity us', says v-c

In a shock move, our vice-chancellor has described our university as a "Cinderella" institution.

Speaking to a press conference in the dilapidated administrative building, he explained that the University of Poppleton had always struggled against the odds. Whereas other institutions enjoyed prosperous origins, it was the poverty-stricken bastard child of the unloved Poppleton Institute of Further Education. This inevitably meant that many of its staff and practically all its students were shabby, unloved, lacking in self-esteem and inclined towards obesity and drug addiction.

In the question-and-answer session that followed his presentation, the vice-chancellor vigorously denied that his portrait of Poppleton was an attempt to combat the boastfulness of other universities by exploiting the well-known British sympathy for victims. In a voice racked with sobs, he described such a suggestion as "personally hurtful" and called upon other equally distressed members of staff to join him on the platform for a final half-hearted chant of "No one likes us - we don't care".

Deeper still and deeper

Christine Hovis, our Deputy Head of Corporate Branding, has enthusiastically welcomed the insights that are now pouring forth from the nearly completed three-year £249,924 Hefce-funded project into how universities might best promote their own distinctiveness.

She told The Poppletonian that she had been particularly impressed by a recent speech by Tricia Scott, research leader of the Distinct project, in which, drawing upon extensive research, she had advised universities that distinctiveness was "not about being unique" but about finding "a combination of things" that added up to a distinctive whole.

But even more valuable was Ms Scott's advice, on the basis of extensive research, that an institution's distinguishing qualities had to be "imperfectly imitable", otherwise competitors would simply copy them.

And perhaps even more valuable was Ms Scott's suggestion, on the basis of extensive research, that universities should conduct a "brand audit" to see what consumers think about them in the way that Brains, a Cardiff-based brewery, had done.

Ms Hovis said that in the face of this "cornucopia of insights", those who had criticised Hefce for spending a quarter of a million pounds on Distinct now had little option but to eat their own words.

Thought for the Week

(contributed by Jennifer Doubleday, Head of Personal Development)

Volunteers in good health are now urgently required to help terminate the careers of those academics who have opted for the university's Assisted Retirement scheme.

lolsoc@dircon.co.uk.

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