"Another first for Poppleton." Those were the triumphant words used by our Director of Curriculum Development, Janet Fluellen, as she announced the introduction from this September of a brand-new BA degree in Unemployment.
Speaking at a specially convened press conference in the atrium of the new Management Centre, Ms Fluellen explained that the move was a direct response to recent ministerial demands that university degrees should be made relevant to the current state of the British economy.
In response to questions, she pointed out that this was not the first time that Poppleton had responded with alacrity to contemporary economic conditions. "This new degree in Unemployment," she insisted, "is very much a natural successor to such previous Poppleton 'firsts' as our highly praised undergraduate degrees in Privatisation and Strike-Breaking, and our groundbreaking postgraduate diploma in Hedge Fund Management."
Two members of staff have received official warnings from the vice-chancellor after they were found guilty of "reckless and illegitimate furniture movement" offences at a recent hearing of the Furniture and Fittings Committee.
According to the committee's transcript, the unnamed guilty academics had repeatedly changed the pattern of chairs in their seminar rooms from the standard HR (horizontal line) teaching formation without going through the appropriate furniture channels. The chairperson of the committee, and current head of Seminar Chair Arrangements, Mr T.P. Gillow, was told that furniture arrangement inspectors had discovered one room in the Sociology Department with chairs set out in a semicircle so as "to increase democratic participation" and one in the English Department where the entire complement of chairs had been upended so as "to resemble the advancing forest of Dunsinane".
In his judgment, Mr Gillow noted that such gratuitous and unofficial rearrangements not only seriously inconvenienced the next occupants of the room but also showed a contempt for existing chair practice that bordered on the criminal.
Wear Your Badge with Pride
Controversial plans for teaching-only staff to wear large pink lapel badges were defended this week by Jamie Targett, our thrusting Director of Corporate Development.
In an email to staff, Targett denied that this development in any way lent substance to the claim by the Shadow Universities Secretary, David Willetts, that "universities were embarrassed about members of staff whose main function was teaching".
"Teaching-only staff should wear their badges with pride," he insisted. "They are a positive indication of the functional significance we attach to this ever-diminishing resource. They also enable students to recognise those academics who have any interest at all in their work and prevent them unnecessarily badgering research-only academics who by definition have other more important matters on their minds."
Thought for the Week
Contributed by Jennifer Doubleday, Head of Personal Development
This is the time of year when our thoughts may be turning to the three-day Christmas break. It's always lovely to get away, but here's a little thought for those who may be wondering if all those hours standing in the liquids queue at Stansted are worth the effort:
"I've been to Paradise - but I've never been to ME".