From : The Office of Professor Lapping
To : The External Examiner
Sorry to have to bother you again about your report but there has been a major policy change since we last corresponded.
You may remember the proposal from Hefce that all universities should publish copies of their external examiners' reports, and my suggestion that you might therefore wish to make some modest adjustments to your own report on this department last year.
In response, you generously agreed to replace the critical phrase "a profoundly mediocre set of results" with the rather more cautious judgement, "an extraordinarily promising year". You also kindly accepted that your reference to our relatively liberal policy on awarding first-class degrees as "like putting children in charge of a sweet shop" might better be characterised as "commendable parsimony".
Well, Mikey, to cut a long story short, it seems that Hefce has now decided that it will not, after all, require universities to publish their external examiners' reports (don't even ask).
So this means that we can happily reinstate your original comments and then proceed to ignore them in the traditional manner, on the grounds that you're only with us for another year and the next incumbent may take a quite different view.
One other small point. It looks as though Hefce may, as an alternative, ask you if the following "three key assessment criteria have been met":
(a) Are standards "appropriate"?
(b) Are the standards comparable to those of similar courses in similar institutions?
(c) Are the examining processes fair?
In case it saves you some precious time, might I suggest that the most apposite responses to these questions are as follows:
Professor G. Lapping ("Gordie")
P.S. Looking forward to another top class dinner next year.
Boy, you certainly know your claret!!!!
The University of Poppleton Calendar 2004 is now available
www.thes.co.uk/bookshop , £10.00.