Impact loses impact shock

November 18, 2010

Suggestions that the Higher Education Funding Council for England has almost totally capitulated to its critics by substantially redefining the notion of impact have been hotly denied by Brian Bryan, our deputy head of REF Strategy.

Speaking to The Poppletonian, Mr Bryan took time to praise the "invaluable six months' work" expended on the pilot impact assessment exercise and the recent observation by Judy Simons, chair of the English panel, that her colleagues' "initial scepticism" about demonstrating "impact" had "faded away once they began to think in terms of the 'benefit' of their work".

Although Mr Bryan agreed that it was conceptually impossible to think of any research that had no benefit whatsoever to someone or other, he disputed the idea that the emasculation of the original term had now made the entire debate a complete waste of energy, time and money.

The principle of backtracking as a mode of covering up an initial miscalculation of academic dissent was, he pointed out, a time-honoured ingredient of higher education policy going forward.

Hamburger truths

"No one could possibly say that about Poppleton." Those were the fighting words of Jamie Targett, our thrusting Director of Corporate Affairs, when he was asked to comment on the recent assertion by Walter Humes, research professor in education at the University of the West of Scotland, that the new corporate culture of universities had led to the "replacement of truth by loyalty as the prime institutional value".

Targett told our reporter Keith Ponting (30) that at Poppleton this conflict had been replaced by a recognition of "different domains of truth". In this culture, all academics understood the need to confine notions of truth to their own disciplinary domain and to leave matters of institutional truth to our highly paid managerial teams of fabricators and redactors.

It would, he contended, be no more appropriate for an academic to comment on the brand value of their institution "than for a meat-processing operative to comment on the nutritional value of a Big Mac".

Thought for the Week

(contributed by Jennifer Doubleday, Head of Personal Development)

Here's a little inspirational quote that neatly combines a seasonal touch with a little intimation of mortality. Hope you like it.

"The days of the pocket diary are numbered."

Have a good one!

"Feel completely free to celebrate subjectively." That was the message from Louise Bimpson, the corporate director of our ever-expanding HR Department, as she declared a campus-wide ban on departmental parties during the coming festive season.

Although the ban extended to any expenditure on drinks, snacks, bunting, paper hats or sprigs, Ms Bimpson stressed that it did not outlaw individual festive expressions.

In what is being interpreted as a climbdown from last year's more austere measures, Ms Bimpson announced that this year academics would be permitted to "verbally convey" seasonal greetings as long as they did not impinge upon statutory teaching and research time, respected the inter-faith sensitivities of the recipients of the greeting, and carried no unnecessarily pressurised implications of reciprocity.

lolsoc@dircon.co.uk.

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