“It’s time we abandoned the tired old shibboleth that there is something wrong with people making fat profits out of higher education.”
Those were the fighting words from Mr D. C. F. Tapstock, our Director of Creative Finance, as he announced that Poppleton was considering running its UK undergraduate business school as a joint venture with INTO, the for-profit educational company that prides itself on “leveraging the strengths of both the public and private sector”.
Both of these universities, said Mr Tapstock, were ideally qualified to cooperate with a “for-profit” company. Gloucestershire had a £19 million debt, while York could boast the third highest number of university refusals to answer Freedom of Information requests.
He described the assertion by Sally Hunt, general secretary of the University and College Union, that Gloucestershire was “ignoring the lessons” of for-profit higher education scandals in the US, as the sort of “knee-jerk hysteria” that had done so much to undermine the standing of such fine “for-profit” enterprises as our “very own Royal Bank of Scotland”.
A fairly small palace
Our vice-chancellor has denied claims that his new grace-and-favour residence, Poppleton Castle, is “reminiscent of the Palace of Versailles”.
Speaking by Skype from the Bahamas, he told our reporter Keith Ponting (30) that his new home had more in common with the modest £1.2 million, five-storey grace-and-favour Glasgow townhouse recently allocated to Sir Jim McDonald, the principal of the University of Strathclyde.
In common with Sir Jim’s new house, Poppleton Castle could boast a number of Corinthian pillars, a broad sweeping staircase, marble fireplaces and underfloor heating, but such features were no more than a “modest way” of recognising the increasing importance of university principals and vice-chancellors. Indeed, Sir Jim’s new house and the £300,000 set aside for its refurbishment needed to be seen as “some sort of compensation” for his modest annual salary of £262,500.
He could only hope that Sir Jim would not suffer the aggravation he himself had recently endured from “1 per cent” academic demonstrators who had refused to abandon their noisy protests outside his new home despite being offered generous portions of cake.
Thought for the week
(contributed by Jennifer Doubleday, Head of Personal Development)
I rather enjoyed this little reminder that not all of us can be first rate
“Eagles may soar but weasels don’t get sucked into jet engines”