“What local community?”
Just one of the remarks made to our Town-Gown committee as they examined the university’s relationship with the city of Poppleton in the wake of survey evidence from the Centre for Business Research and the UK- Innovation Research Centre showing that UK academics regard working with the local community as the least important factor in their career advancement.
All in all, the committee discovered a substantial degree of ignorance about local culture: 93 per cent of academics did not know the derivation of the word “Poppleton” (Ton, a hamlet; Popple, to move with an irregular tumbling motion). A further 84 per cent could not locate Poppleton’s major architectural feature (the Slurry Cooling Tower at Poppleton Pork Products), while nobody at all knew the local dialect name for those who work at the university (“Tossers”).
In an attempt to remedy this situation, our Head of External Relations, Kirk Swavely, has organised a one-hour open-top bus tour of Poppleton City. Those taking part should wear full academic dress and carry an appropriate symbol of their discipline (eg, a copy of Middlemarch for humanities and a bunch of hegemonies for sociologists).
Mr Swavely said that other “getting to know you” initiatives were planned but these would necessarily be spread out over time. “The last thing we want is concern about the local community getting in the way of our research.”
Excitement mounts over Hefce choice
Our reporter Keith Ponting (30) detects mounting excitement on campus as the hunt for a new chief executive for Hefce goes down to the finishing line. Although nobody knows what Hefce is supposed to do now that it has no funding role, its vital importance to higher education is evident from the proposed annual salary of £2,000.
Ponting’s research has thrown up four main contenders:
Sir Blandly Overseer (74)
Sir Blandly is a former vice-chancellor of the Holy Ghost University College of Uttoxeter. He is an acknowledged expert at taking credit for the achievements of others, and before the latest rumours began to circulate was said to have a safe pair of hands. Who’s Who in Post-1992 Universities lists his hobbies as bending with the wind and shooting wild birds. Current betting: 5-1.
Dave Stunt (64)
Dave is very much the young contender in this race. He formerly worked as International Strategic Operations Manager in the Starmix division of Haribo and only came into higher education through the back door. He is regarded as “thrusting” but “lacking any sense of direction”. Both his grandparents are UKIP councillors. Current betting: 20-1.
Sir Geoffrey Geoffrey (82)
Geoffrey (“so good they named him twice”) Geoffrey is also a safe pair of hands but tends to be unsteady on his feet after lunch. He is no stranger to the corridors of power but has difficulty finding the toilet. His former chairmanship of a major landmines company should serve him in good stead when it comes to assessing impact. Sir Geoffrey was once very friendly with Sir Alan Langlands, the Hefce incumbent, but now, in the wake of Sir Alan’s vocal criticism of coalition policy on higher education, discovers that he hardly knows him. Current betting: 4-1.
No details of this candidate are available but then she won’t get the job anyway.
Thought for the week
(contributed by Jennifer Doubleday, Head of Personal Development)
Please note that now that finals are upon us once again, I will be reviving the Thursday evening relationship counselling sessions for incompatible marking pairs.