Let's measure everything!

July 8, 2010

"Another major breakthrough going forward." That was the enthusiastic reaction of Jamie Targett, our Director of Corporate Affairs, to the declaration from David Sweeney, director of research, innovation and skills at Hefce, that "consensus is breaking out around the sector" over the possibility of measuring "research impact".

Targett told The Poppletonian that this was "further refutation of the cynical view that it is impossible to measure each and every aspect of higher education".

"Remember the bad old days when research was evaluated by such crude yardsticks as intrinsic merit rather than by a precise count of published papers?

"Remember the bad old days when departmental prestige rested on such vague criteria as 'reputation' rather than upon the exact number of first-class degrees those departments dispensed?

"Remember the bad old days when academics and students would endlessly debate the value of a degree rather than knowing the clear-cut cash benefit in employment terms a student would derive from studying subject A at university B?

"All in all", said Targett, "Mr Sweeney's pronouncement is further confirmation of progressive management's view that if you press senior academics hard enough they will almost inevitably see the logic of taking any steps whatsoever that will ingratiate them with what they believe to be current governmental imperatives. It is yet another example of what we like to term 'academic roll over'."

Mum's the word

"Careless words can cost jobs." That was how Gloria Chopard, our Deputy Director of Staff Time Management, chose to introduce the news that the present ban upon academic corridor conversations would now be extended to include conversations in staff toilets and on covered ways.

Ms Chopard said that research by her department had shown that conversations between academics in these settings was invariably of a "negative variety" and occasionally descended into "gratuitous abuse of individual administrators".

She hoped that the new measures would also curb such practices as the Philosophy Department's "wholly inappropriate use" of its staff toilet facilities for lunchtime darts matches involving a portrait of the vice-chancellor.

Hurrah for HR

Louise Bimpson, the Corporate Director of our ever-expanding HR Department, has described her recent attendance at the HR conference on the Changing Academic Profession as "a very fruitful experience".

She said that she particularly welcomed the assertion by Mike Boxall, Head of PA Consulting Group's higher education services, that there will need to be "more active management of academic work".

This, claimed Ms Bimpson, was further evidence that we were nearing the end of the "anarchic" era in which academics "were left to their own devices". It was also the rationale behind Poppleton's decision to recruit more management staff to bring it into line with the "cutting-edge" example of the Welsh universities, where less than half of all university staff are involved in teaching and research.

Thought for the Week

(contributed by Jennifer Doubleday, Head of Personal Development)

"Tell me again how lucky I am to work here. I keep forgetting."

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