Laurie Taylor column

July 23, 2004

In a shock announcement yesterday, Mr G. Middlewhite, the managing director of Poppleton Pork Products plc, declared that Poppleton would soon be home to a new university. From September 2005, Popppleton University and the City University of Poppleton are to be joined by the Poppleton Pork Products University.

The PPPU, declared Mr Middlewhite, would be one of the exciting new privately financed "teaching-only" universities inaugurated last week by Alan Johnson, the Higher Education Minister. This freedom from research requirements would, insisted Mr Middlewhite, give his company's university a massive advantage over other institutions of higher education.

"Academics will no longer be able to shelter behind the lah-di-dah excuse that they need time off to conduct research or attend research conferences or fill in research applications. At PPPU they will enjoy exactly the same status as other employees of Poppleton Pork Products. Just like their colleagues in departments such as Fat Larding and Bristle Weaving, they will be required to put in a full 55-hour week."

Mr Middlewhite explained that PPPU would, in line with government requirements, have the equivalent of 4,000 full-time students, and would have "no truck with old-fashioned courses, such as physics, maths, chemistry or philosophy", which presently fail to attract sufficient students. "All our courses will be market-tested in the same professional way as our recently launched range of Scrunchy Scratchings," he declared. "If students want degree courses in lap dancing or advanced phone texting, then that is what the PPPU will provide."

In response to a further question, Mr Middlewhite said that he saw no problem in a university being wholly owned by a pork product manufacturer. He said that courses at the university were to include a ham or sausage perspective where it was thought appropriate but this would not be an essential component of the final degree. He did, however, confirm that the logo for the new institute would be that currently marking the entrance to the Poppleton Pork Products Animal Reception Centre - "Bringing Home the Bacon".

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