New research findings from Dr Nicola Ingram of the University of Bath show that some middle-class students at the post-1992 University of the West of England feel distinctly “out of place”. Could this also be true of Poppleton?
“Certainly not,” insists Nancy Harbinger, Deputy Head of Student Experience. “Our university has already taken major steps to reduce any such sense of alienation among its own rapidly diminishing group of middle-class students.”
These steps include regular “bourgeois tea parties” with a menu featuring green tea, seeded batch bread and a choice of flourless chocolate cake or panettone. Middle-class students who continue to feel a loss of cultural capital after taking tea are offered an extended visit to the newly opened Ring Road branch of Waitrose.
Members of academic staff have also been officially alerted to the linguistic sensitivities of middle-class students. However, Ms Harbinger declined to comment on the rumour that Professor Lapping of Media and Cultural Studies had been verbally reprimanded for repeatedly referring to the departmental lavatory as “the powder room”.
Well worth a mention
Was our university’s image damaged by the recent press revelation that our Institute of Peace Studies was wholly financed by North Korea’s Ministry of People’s Security?
The answer from Jamie Targett, our Director of Corporate Affairs, is a resounding “no”.
Targett told our reporter Keith Ponting (30) that he had studied the minutes of a meeting of the governing council of Newcastle University and very much agreed with the council’s intimation that “negative publicity” such as that attracted to the LSE for its links with the Gaddafi regime did not necessarily have any ill effects on an institution’s ranking. Indeed in the LSE’s case, its position actually improved.
It was too early to say if Poppleton’s close association with a regime run by a megalomaniac nuclear-armed dictator would produce a similar ranking improvement, but it had already earned our university well over Newcastle’s target of 1,200 media mentions a month.
In this respect, Targett told Ponting, it easily outshone the “somewhat negative” news coverage of our vice-chancellor’s recent cocaine-fuelled three-in-a-bed romp at the Athenaeum Club.
Getting down to basics
“Yes, we have been using headhunters.” That was the frank admission from Brian Bryan, our Deputy Head of REF Strategy, when asked if Poppleton was emulating City University London in its quest to recruit more and more four-star research staff.
Mr Bryan also confirmed that Poppleton would follow City’s example by “losing” large numbers of non-academic staff so as to afford the new researchers. Such a move was a logical extension of Poppleton’s previous decision to “restructure” several hundred “research-unproductive academics”.
He further confirmed that his ultimate aim was to have the university staffed almost entirely by four-star researchers who would be set the task of producing an endless stream of REF publications. Bryan denied that this was in any way an abdication of our university’s traditional teaching function or constituted a cynical mechanistic approach to research. For while it was true that the battery of researchers would be set production targets, they would otherwise be allowed to roam freely.
Following the implementation of our new ecological binless office regime, will all academics please refrain from using the university’s postal service to mail their rubbish home? Thank you.