Our Deputy Head of Brand Management, Georgina Edsel, has joined the national search for a new name for those low-ranking members of the Russell Group recently described as “Bottom Russellers” by Sir David Watson, professor of higher education at the University of Oxford.
Ms Edsel told The Poppletonian that while a new name was clearly necessary for those universities whose inadequate research record confined them to the lower end of the Russell Group table, she had some sympathy with those who thought the term “Bottom Russellers” was “phonetically liable to misinterpretation”.
She believed that a solution might best be found by going back to the roots of the Russell Group, to the days when it was composed entirely of the leading research universities and acquired its distinctive name as a result of holding its covert meetings at the four-star Russell Hotel in London’s Russell Square.
This hotel theme could be readily refreshed and renewed, said Ms Edsel, if the so-called “Bottom Russellers” now distinguished themselves from their research superiors by describing themselves as the “Premier Inn Group”. This would not only draw attention to their own relative lack of stars but would also provide excellent branding opportunities. She instanced the following “imaginative example” of the manner in which this new group might celebrate its distinctiveness after a typical Russell Group meeting:
When it’s been a long day and you’ve been reminded again
That your status is low and your research awfully thin
That compared to the rest you’re a virtual has-been
You can always rely on a Premier Inn.
Take me to your leader
Our vice-chancellor has described himself as “most impressed” with Times Higher Education’s investigation into the most important qualities to be looked for in those who are entrusted with the task of managing an institution of higher education.
He said he hoped to “take some of this advice to heart”, including the specific recommendation from Mark Pegg, chief executive of the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education, that vice-chancellors “should have a sense of humour”.
Not all Poppleton academics, however, found this advice relevant. One of our leading troublemakers, Ted Odgers of the Department of Media and Cultural Studies, insisted that our vice-chancellor had “no need whatsoever” to develop a sense of humour in that his annual salary already meant that “he was in possession of one of the best jokes of all time”.
In her traditional Easter Week message, our ecumenical chaplain, the Rev Georgina Spandrel, has issued a reminder that although this is a time of the year with “very special significance for those of a Christian persuasion”, it should also be borne in mind that it carries no such importance for “those of other faiths and those who choose quite wilfully to embrace no faith whatsoever”.
This knowledge, says the Rev Spandrel, should induce a proper sense of “theological modesty”. And it is this consideration that has led her to strongly recommend that the end of this week should be referred to in rather less triumphalist terms as “Fairly Good Friday”. She hoped this “clarified the situation”.
Thought for the week
(contributed by Jennifer Doubleday, Head of Personal Development)
Places are now available for next week’s seminar on the ethical problems associated with assisted dying. Mark your application: ‘Very Early Retirement’.