Lead on UUK - we'll follow

April 12, 2012

Our vice-chancellor has described himself as "gobsmacked" after learning from research by the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education that Universities UK is not regarded by academics as possessing leadership qualities.

He told The Poppletonian that this verdict was "difficult to reconcile" with the manner in which UUK had boldly taken the lead in accepting every detail of the present government's plans for the overhaul of higher education despite the fact that this transformation benefited only the small minority of UUK members who belonged to the Russell Group.

"It is", said the vice-chancellor, "difficult to imagine a better index of effective leadership than the capacity to persuade such a large number of fully pensioned turkeys to vote for Christmas."

Trust me, I've done the course

"One should always be wary of statistics that show that one doesn't know what one is doing."

That was the sceptical response of our Head of Leadership, Mr Stewart Edge, to research from the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education (op. cit.) showing a lack of academic leaders in UK universities.

Mr Edge claimed that this finding should not be read as an indictment of our own university's thoroughgoing commitment to leadership training programmes. It was true that in the past 10 years, just over 80 per cent of Poppleton's academics had been sent away for two days at a time to attend very expensive leadership courses during which they had been lectured to the point of tedium on the meaning of leadership and been persuaded to demonstrate their leadership qualities by indulging in a range of pointless collaborative tasks.

However, maintained Mr Edge, the fact that not one of these leadership courses had produced a single new leader suggested, contrary to first impressions, that we might have seriously underestimated the number of leadership courses needed to produce leaders.

When asked if this was a view that he would seek to impress upon his colleagues, Mr Edge demurred. "I think", he said, "you may be mistaking me for a leader."

Cashback consultancy

Evidence from a new Times Higher Education survey based on Freedom of Information enquiries suggesting that our university may be relying too heavily on external consultants has been described as "misleading" by Mr D.C.F. Tapstock, our Director of Creative Finance.

Mr Tapstock admitted that our reported expenditure of £596,841 on brand management was "slightly above" the £291,600 spent by Lancaster University on "management consultancy, efficiency reviews and 'process improvement'" and "some way in excess" of the £52,500 spent by the School of African and Oriental Studies, University of London on a "perceptions audit for brand review".

However, it was important to note that Poppleton had recouped a significant part of its outlay by following in the steps of the University of Derby and claiming £24,300 to cover the cost of meeting the original Freedom of Information request.

"In finance," averred Mr Tapstock, "it always pays to look on the bright side. As the head of our Endowment Department is fond of saying: 'Where there's a will, there's a Poppleton legacy.'"

Thought for the week

(contributed by Jennifer Doubleday, Head of Personal Development)

Next week's seminar by Jamie Targett in our "Learn to Speak Like a Manager" series has been cancelled due to "critical ongoing exigencies affecting the here and now instrumentalisation of audible receptivity". I'm sure you'll join with me in wishing Mr Targett a speedy recovery from his sore throat.


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