Hello and goodbye

September 29, 2011

As usual at this time of the academic year, we are pleased to provide a transcript of our vice-chancellor's official speech of welcome to all our new students.

"I'm very pleased and indeed honoured to welcome you all to the University of Poppleton, which may not be a university at all by next year if we don't persuade enough students to cough up the thousands of pounds that they'll now need to spend on the courses that are costing you lot practically nothing.

"Let me also congratulate you all on your choice of course, although many of the courses you've chosen this year may come to a sudden stop next year when we discover that they are not popular enough to attract paying students.

"Please make every effort to contact your academic supervisor straight away because, frankly, the way things are going at the moment they may also be for the knacker's yard in the not-too-distant future unless they can teach business studies or accountancy.

"One final word of advice. Do remember that a university, unlike a school or a college of further education, is not a production line leading to an exam. It is a place where you are free to pursue your intellectual interests, develop your knowledge, acquire not just mere learning but wisdom - although, of course, all this will change next year when our only concern will be to ensure that as many of our graduates as possible end up getting a job.


The Vice-Chancellor

(Signed in his absence by Mrs Dilworth)

Faking social psychology

Our head of social psychology, Professor D.K. Mundayne, has joined in the academic condemnation of Dr Diederik Stapel, one of Europe's leading social psychologists and former editor of the important journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, who has admitted using fictitious data in his publications.

Professor Mundayne told our reporter, Keith Ponting (30), that he had tested the significance of Dr Stapel's data faking by dividing 30 students (matched for boredom and tendency to snigger) into two groups of 15. The first group was shown a copy of one of Dr Stapel's research papers without being told that it was a fake and then asked to evaluate its contents on a 24-point scale. The second group of students (matched for narcolepsy and incipient hysteria) was told that the paper was faked before being asked to evaluate its contents.

The results showed that those who knew the paper was a fake were far less likely to believe its contents than those who were denied this knowledge (p=0.5).

When Ponting suggested that these findings tended towards the obvious, Professor Mundayne explained that this lay at the heart of his concern about Dr Stapel's fakery. "In a discipline that places such a high premium on self-evident findings, it's vitally important to know that such findings are based on reliable data."

An apology

Last Thursday we advertised a seminar titled "Why Poppleton is very much like a Mars Bar", which was to have been given by a research leader from Hefce's three-year, £249,924 project into how universities might best promote their own distinctiveness.

Unfortunately, we now learn that the seminar had to be cancelled at the last minute because of the research leader's inability to locate our university. We apologise for any inconvenience this may have caused.

Thought for the Week

(contributed by Jennifer Doubleday, Head of Personal Development)

"If tomorrow is the first day of your life, what was yesterday?"


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