October 24, 2013

Source: Alamy

Here today. Here tomorrow.

Our Head of Campus Security, Brigadier T. W. Trouncing, has praised the University of Sunderland and the University of Ulster for what he describes as “their brave initiative” in introducing fingerprinting as a way of monitoring the physical presence of international students at lectures.

Speaking to our reporter, Keith Ponting (30), Trouncing described international students as “a mixed blessing”. While on the one hand their fees “were more than welcome”, the constant possibility that they might “wander off campus and become dangerous terrorists” was always something “one had at the back of one’s mind”.

It was for this reason, Trouncing explained, that Poppleton had recently decided to implement a “marginally more efficient method” of ensuring that such students were not allowed “to roam freely”.

However, Trouncing flatly denied claims that this new method – the fitting of a relatively small ball and moderately sized chain to the ankles of all international students – was in any way an overreaction. He went on to describe complaints about the chafing caused by the new devices as “the type of whingeing we’ve come to expect from the civil liberties wallahs”.


Speaking frankly

Our vice-chancellor has openly declared his support for the recent assertion by Steve West, the vice-chancellor of the University of the West of England, that vice-chancellors should become more of “an independent force for positive social change”.

When questioned by reporter Keith Ponting (30), our vice-chancellor readily agreed that in common with every other vice-chancellor in the country he had largely kept quiet about such aspects of present government policy as lumbering students with unpayable debts, licensing more and more private for-profit universities, measuring universities solely in terms of their market value to students, substituting managerial control for academic decision-making, devaluing teaching through over-concentration on duplicitous assessments of research output, and generally destroying what was once regarded as the leading system of higher education in the civilised world. However, in the wake of Professor West’s injunction, he was now prepared to say without any regard to the consequences that in his considered view David Willetts, the universities and science minister, looks “just a teeny bit less intelligent since he stopped wearing his spectacles”.


Yesterday’s man

“He’s very much a yesterday’s man.”

That was the term used this week by Brian Bryan, our Deputy Head of REF Strategy, to describe Sir Peter Swinnerton-Dyer, whose former posts have included vice-chancellor of the University of Cambridge, chairman of the University Grants Committee and chief executive of the Universities Funding Council.

Although Mr Bryan allowed that Sir Peter had enjoyed a brilliant academic and administrative career and had been critical in developing research assessment, he thought that much of this distinction had been fatally undermined by Sir Peter’s description of the introduction of “impact” into the research excellence framework as a “licence for lying”.

Mr Bryan regarded this characterisation as “a deeply disturbing slur” on the work of the several dozen people from the respected world of public relations who had been employed by Poppleton University to detect “impact” in places where no one had previously believed it to exist.


Thought for the week

(contributed by Jennifer Doubleday, Head of Personal Development)

“I’m so sorry but the gremlins have been at work again and are responsible for the word ‘twerking’ in the title of this week’s seminar. This should, of course, have read ‘The Communicative Power of Tweeting’.”(Please note that this seminar is already over-subscribed.)

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