Great big classes: 'we love 'em' - official

December 13, 2012

Our Deputy Head of Student Experience, Nancy Harbinger, has described research on student-to-staff ratios by Stephen Court as "dangerously misleading".

Mr Court, a senior research officer at the University and College Union, claimed in his report that university class sizes significantly exceed official figures because many academics described as teachers spend most of their time doing research.

But Ms Harbinger told The Poppletonian that although Poppleton's "teaching staff" did in common with other universities' devote only about a quarter of their time to actual teaching, there was no need for this to concern the students who thereby had to endure far larger classes than those reported in the official student-to-staff ratio.

"In this respect," Ms Harbinger said, "I find myself in complete and utter agreement with David Palfreyman of the Oxford Centre for Higher Education Policy Studies, who has argued that students might be willing to accept larger class sizes and 'limited teaching' so long as 'their university's research reputation is enhanced'.

"I couldn't have put it better myself," Ms Harbinger enthused. "What on earth's the matter with a bit of overcrowding, inadequate opportunities for discussion, second-rate teaching by graduate assistants and an almost total lack of close personal attention when set alongside the knowledge that all these inadequacies offer solid proof that you belong to a superior university?"

Nailing the lies

"What do you mean 'narrow'?"

That was the indignant reaction of Daisy Dukes, the vice-chancellor of Poppleton's new University of Manicuring, to anonymous suggestions that her institution lacked a sufficient range of subjects to qualify as a "proper university".

Dr Dukes told our reporter Keith Ponting (30) that she had been "over the moon" upon learning from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills that her former second-rate college had along with "lots of other for-profit colleges" become a small part of what David Willetts has with "proper pride" called "the single biggest creation of universities since 1992".

"Being one of these exciting new for-profit universities", explained Dr Dukes, "means I can now access huge lumps of student loan cash and not have to put up with the meddling by the Quality Assurance Agency imposed on traditional higher education institutions."

Dr Dukes told Ponting that she believed it was "downright jealousy about these wonderful new freedoms to make money without bothering all that much about quality" that lay behind the accusations of narrowness. "Compared with other new for-profit universities, we're positively broad-ranging. Whereas the new University of Law is required to stick to such conventional legal topics as tort and easements and covenants, we can offer our students courses in such developing areas as reverse French manicuring, hot stone manicuring and advanced cuticle management."

She told Ponting that she had no intention of "lying down" in the face of such malicious abuse. "As our critics will soon discover to their cost, there is nothing quite so tough as nail studies."

Thought for the week

(contributed by Jennifer Doubleday, Head of Personal Development)

I'm sorry to sound a churlish note at this time of year, but would the person who removed the large statue of Vishnu from the atrium of the Personal Development Suite please return it immediately as its absence is jeopardising the construction of this year's inter-faith crib.

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