Cake mystery resolved

February 14, 2013

Our Head of Marketing, Graham Flair, has explained the logic behind the news that many universities (including Poppleton) have increased their marketing spend by as much as 22 per cent and plan still further increases.

Mr Flair said that some “hidebound academics” had questioned the point of dramatically increasing the amount of money spent on advertising the quality of the student experience at Poppleton when such expenditure necessarily reduced that very quality. But what this failed to take into account was that the increased marketing spend at other universities meant that the quality of student experience at those institutions would also decline. So, from a strictly comparative perspective, there would be no change whatsoever.

But there was “an even more fundamental error of logic” committed by those who questioned the point of marketing at all when the cap on student numbers meant that any gain could only involve the successful university taking a bigger slice of the same-sized cake.

This argument, Mr Flair said, totally ignored the “exciting fact” that such apparently pointless expenditure eventually produced a brand new cake: a big fat cherry-topped cream-filled gateau that could readily be enjoyed by university marketing departments and their ever-eager commercial partners. It was a development which Mr Flair characterised as “yummy”.

Wishing and hoping and planning

A leading Poppleton don, Professor F.R. Beavis, has criticised the “gerundive obsession” of our Department of Corporate Branding.

Professor Beavis explained that he had no problem with the “gerundive tendency” displayed by such universities as Bradford, which happily embraces the triple gerunds of “Confronting Inequality”, “Celebrating Diversity” and “Making Knowledge Work”. But he had been alarmed on looking through the current Poppleton prospectus to encounter 26 “gerundive formulations”, including “Managing Change”, “Raising Hopes”, “Delivering Excellence”, “Widening Participation” and “Fulfilling Dreams”.

However, a spokesperson for the Department of Corporate Branding claimed that Professor Beavis had “inflated the gerundive component of the prospectus” by including such grammatically inappropriate examples as “Swinging Doors”, “Meeting Rooms” and “Counselling Couch”.

He considered it “a matter for regret” that Professor Beavis had so clearly failed to understand that the gerund was “a vital ingredient of any branding programme going forward”.

Reach out and touch

“Anything which keeps the QAA at a distance can only be a good thing.” That was the vigorous response of Lionel Fabler, our Head of QAA Document Formulation, to the news that the regulatory body would no longer be carrying out six-yearly full-scale inspections at most institutions of higher education.

Mr Fabler said the announcement meant that the watchdog would now rely even more heavily on a university’s own estimation of its ability to uphold standards. This new “light touch approach”, said Mr Fabler, could only be a good thing, as university administrators like himself who were required to labour away for months fabricating documentary proof of their institution’s excellence would no longer face their work being undermined by the glimpses of reality afforded by an actual visit.

He described as “disturbingly conspiratorial” the idea that the QAA’s new “light touch” policy was linked to David Willetts’ “soft touch” policy in regard to university applications from for-profit providers.

Thought for the week

(contributed by Jennifer Doubleday, Head of Personal Development)

“Surprise can be a sexist weapon. Please check with all intended recipients before posting your Valentine’s Day card.”

Please login or register to read this article

Register to continue

Get a month's unlimited access to THE content online. Just register and complete your career summary.

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments