Home thoughts from abroad

August 30, 2012

Statistics compiled by Poppleton University's Centre for Inconsequential Findings That Are Likely To Get In The Newspapers show that 82 per cent of the UK's academics are currently taking statutory leave.

This week we acknowledge this mass exodus with a special edition devoted to reflections from abroad.

We begin with Professor Lapping of our Media and Cultural Studies Department, who - while vacationing in one of the more storm-tossed parts of Brittany - still has one eye on the REF!

Dear All,

I'm currently using my time away from the UK as an opportunity to further my work on the reporting of British academia in the foreign press.

The preliminary results are disturbing. In the past fortnight, the foreign press has systematically described the current admissions system in UK universities as "a shambles", "a pig's ear" and "up the creek without a paddle". (Idiomatic translations courtesy of Mrs Lapping.)

Foreign newspapers misleadingly speak of this year's clearing process as a "bleeding fiasco". They perversely describe Hefce's estimate of the number of students obtaining AAB grades as "totally wide of the mark" and point out that this error, when coupled with the failure of further education colleges to recruit their quota of expected students, will mean a net reduction in the total number of students going to university.

Some foreign press reports have even disgracefully suggested that this double failure means that the two competitive mechanisms introduced and much-lauded by the present government have gone "tits up" (Mrs Lapping op. cit.) and that the minister for universities, David Willetts, should now admit that his ideological commitment to introducing competition into a sector that was formerly the envy of the world has been nothing but une grande catastrophe (a dog's dinner.)


G. Lapping

We continue with this anonymised letter from a non-European Union student who will shortly take up an undergraduate place.

My dearest Poppleton University,

I'm writing this litter to say how much over the moonshine I am because of your gentle offering to me of a place in your course of under graduating.

I am thanking you also with open heart for your big cheque asking. What a shedload!

My thanking is also for your low sinking standards of English language. I am knowing from new reports that two-thirds of your universities in England have low standards below the low standards set by the International English Language Testing System but your standards at Poppleton have even lower sinking. Indeed well done.

I am forward looking to you holding my future inside your grabbing hands.

I stay your humble serving person.

And now for some timely advice, over to the thrusting Jamie Targett, our Director of Corporate Affairs.

Holidays are first and foremost a time for change, a time for realising that the only constant in today's world is change and that we can only move forward by embracing the challenge of change. Too many holidaying people are prepared to remain in their traditional silos, failing to accept the critical role of croissants and brioches in the changing world of breakfast, failing to move out of their comfort zones into the more challenging environments of smaller beds, ill-fitting bathroom plugs and chemists that fail to stock Elastoplast.

Recently I was sitting in a French cafe when the man next to me paid for his creme de menthe with a five-euro note. "Gardez la monnaie," he said to the waiter. "Keep the change."

Let that be a motto for us all in the years ahead going forward.

Thought for the week

(Jennifer Doubleday, Head of Personal Development, is swimming with dolphins.)


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