Our Director of Corporate Affairs, Jamie Targett, has defended the Quality Assurance Agency from accusations of “copping out” after it refused to release details of the first successful appeal against its critical findings.
Targett said that it was certainly true that back in 2012 the QAA had produced a critical report on the University of Southampton and that this review had been set aside in 2013 when the university successfully appealed against the findings.
It was also true that the QAA had announced after this successful appeal that the findings would be published. It was also true that just one year later, in 2014, the QAA changed its rules so as to ensure that details of any appeals against its judgements would be kept secret.
Obviously, said Targett, “an outsider” might find it difficult to see why this sudden rule change affected publication of the details of the successful appeal in that the appeal so clearly pre-dated the rule change.
But, said Targett, such a view of events failed to take into account the QAA’s history. How could an organisation with such a proud record of low credibility and lack of transparency change course without being damned by its critics as alarmingly inconsistent?
(Rumours that the QAA may shortly be replaced by a witches’ coven have been firmly denied.)
Come into the parlour
“It’s certainly not true at Poppleton!”
That was the vigorous response of Kirk Swavely, our Head of External Relations, to the claim by Patricia Walker, visiting research fellow at the University of East London, that many overseas academics felt uncomfortable in UK universities.
Mr Swavely said that he had noted Dr Walker’s claim in the Journal of Research in International Education that much of this discomfort stemmed from the feeling among foreign academics that their status was not properly recognised by home-based academics.
However, this was not a problem at Poppleton, where academic staff had been so undermined by management imperatives in recent years that they were now “in considerable awe” of the cleaners.
But Mr Swavely did agree that more could be done to make “overseas dons” welcome at Poppleton. And it was with this in mind that he had inaugurated a series of “welcome foreigner dinners”, the first of which would be aimed primarily at dons from the Asian subcontinent.
(NB If you are an Asian sub-continent don and would like to attend, please apply directly to Mr Swavely marking your application “Chicken Balti Evening”.)
Local election tsunami
In an election already replete with shock results comes the alarming news that one of our own dons, Mr Ted Odgers, the Smash the Bosses candidate for Poppleton West constituency, failed to gain a single vote.
Commentators variously described the outcome as a “seismic shift”, an “existential crisis” and a “complete meltdown”. However, Mr Odgers, while admitting disappointment, blamed the outcome on the SNP, the failure of his party to be aspirational, the lack of dynamic leadership and his own “tactical error” in nailing a list of his election pledges to the door of Poppleton West’s parish church.
Thought for the week
(Jennifer Doubleday is currently following in the footsteps of Tom Cruise and exfoliating with bird excrement. She will be back in business next week.)