My wife's gone to the West Indies - official

August 5, 2010

Our vice-chancellor, who is currently in the Caribbean attending a two-week international conference on the challenge for higher education in a time of economic crisis, has responded angrily to Hefce's recently announced ban on spouses participating in such trips.

He told The Poppletonian by satellite link that his new wife, Georgina (), who had accompanied him and his personal assistant on the present trip, was very much an "ambassador in her own right".

While it was true that her "natural reticence" meant that she did not play a part in the official proceedings, her readiness to avail herself of "retail opportunities" made a valuable contribution to the local economy, as well as providing evidence of Poppleton's continuing financial viability, he added.

He also claimed that his wife played a vital role in ceremonial aspects of the conference scene such as traditional five-course banquets, but denied that the organisers' readiness to include her name in the official invitation was influenced by his decision to describe her on the register as "a bit of a goer".

So lonely I could die

Maureen, the departmental secretary in Media and Cultural Studies, has asked us to announce that she will be arranging a series of "get-togethers" for other departmental secretaries during the month of August.

Speaking to our reporter, Keith Ponting (30), she said that this was the time of year when departmental secretaries experienced varying degrees of loneliness and alienation as they realised they were the only living beings in the building apart from a few itinerant graduates vainly searching for their supervisors.

She described the typical academic's fear of being discovered in the university during August as "bordering on the pathological" and instanced those members of her own department who visited only under cover of darkness. She herself had been "thoroughly disconcerted" earlier in the week by the disturbing sight of one senior academic attempting to access his pigeonhole by abseiling down from the rooftop.

Although there would be no formal agenda for the new "get-togethers", Maureen expected that the conversation would "quite naturally" turn to such everyday matters as the gross incompetence of academics at all aspects of record-keeping, timetabling, email correspondence, reference writing, computer management, exam marking, putting more paper in the photocopier, turning off radiators and opening windows.

Maureen confirmed that refreshments would be available. "Fortunately," she told Ponting, "our long professional training has not only equipped us to carry out every variety of complex administrative tasks for a miserable financial reward, but also taught us how to be an absolute angel and pop the kettle on".

Over here and overcharged

Our Deputy Head of Student Experience, Nancy Harbinger, has defended our university's decision to increase its fees for undergraduates from outside the European Union to £24,560 a year. She told The Poppletonian that this increase needed to be set against a "modest relaxation" in the criteria for the acceptance of such students. This "relaxation", while reducing the emphasis upon academic ability, would not in any way modify the traditional demand that successful candidates display a capacity to walk by putting one foot in front of the other, she added.

Thought for the Week

(contributed by Jennifer Doubleday, Head of Personal Development)

Here's a provocative thought for all of you who can't afford to take a holiday in these difficult economic times: "I've been everywhere. But I've never been to me."

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