Laurie Taylor Column

January 20, 2006

" Students at Sheffield University have been offered ex gratia payments totalling more than £22,000 for the "regrettable difficulties" they experienced on a degree course " - The Times Higher, January 13 .

University of Poppleton

From: The Registrar

Subject: Ex gratia payments

I am now writing with details of the ex gratia payments that this university will be offering to student customers who have experienced "regrettable difficulties" with their courses.

* £75 each to students on Foundation course in Physics.

Regrettable difficulty: No iron filings for "Magnetism"


* £50 each to first-year students on Introduction to Media Studies.

Regrettable difficulty: Dr Piercemuller unavailable to deliver five lectures because of avian flu quarantine restrictions at his research base in Turkey.

* £35 each to students on second-year sociology course, Three Key Arguments for Marxism.

Regrettable difficulty: Only two arguments were presented by lecturer Ted Odgers, who claimed in his defence that the third argument - the overthrow of the bourgeois state by the organised proletariat - had been superseded by events.

* £25 each to second-year students on BSc in Hotel Management.

Regrettable difficulty: Timetable clash between "Basic Concepts in Silver Service" and "Foundations of Portion Control".

* £10 each to third-years on BA Philosophy course on Sartre.

Regrettable difficulty: Eight of nine scheduled seminars on "Being and Nothingness" were devoted to Being, leaving almost no time at all for Nothing.

* £12.50 each to third-year BA Creative Writing students on Parameters of the Novel course.

Regrettable difficulty: Essays were inappropriately marked on the basis of sheer length.

* £15 each to BA Film Studies students on second-year course, Memory, Recollection, Presence, Identity and Transience in Orson Welles's Citizen Kane .

Regrettable difficulty: Projector broke down.

I hope this clarifies the situation.

The Registrar (signed in his absence by Mrs Dilworth).

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