No going back - V-C speaks

February 26, 2009

Our Vice-Chancellor has reacted angrily to the revelation in The Sunday Times that John Denham, the Universities Secretary, is about to ask former polytechnics to revert to their previous role rather than continue with their attempt to "ape leading academic institutions".

"This would be a dangerously retrograde step," he told a hastily convened press conference. "Is the minister seriously suggesting that this great university should go back to the bad old days when we were merely Poppleton Polytechnic? Back to the bad old days when there was an inadequate library, hopelessly dilapidated buildings, low-morale staff and little or no funded research? Back to the bad old days when our present SCRs were only staff rooms? Back to the days of grubby degrees in plumbing rather than our pioneering new degrees in Aromatherapy and Surfing Studies? Back to the days when we lacked our present heraldic logo, when there was no Latin used in our degree ceremonies and people from the town used to pop in and out of the place as though they owned it? Back to the days when my own high office was demeaned by the appellation 'Principal'? This is tantamount to turning back the Enlightenment."

Name check

Last week's Hefce report about staff not knowing students by name, has prompted a new "student recognition initiative".

Our thrusting Director of Corporate Affairs, Jamie Targett, explained that it would involve random visits by members of our ever-expanding Human Resources team to seminars and tutorials. On arrival, the HR staff would arbitrarily designate a student and ask the tutorial leader to "Name that student in one".

To ensure "a level playing field", names of more than three syllables would earn bonus points, with additional points available for the successful naming of "difficult overseas students".

The system would "enhance nominal identification" as well as ensuring that there was no repeat of last year's unfortunate graduation day fiasco when 170 undergraduate students in psychology were awarded DPhils in medieval history.

Dear Parliament

Academics at Poppleton have responded in record numbers to the invitation from the House of Commons Innovation, Universities, Science and Skills Select Committee to submit questions and concerns about higher education. Here are some of the most cited inquiries:

- What is the best way to secure the dismissal of an incumbent vice-chancellor?

- Why is present government policy on higher education now determined by people who would have serious trouble managing a whelk stall?

- What can you do to improve my redundancy package?

(NB. All submissions to the select committee must be made by yesterday.)

Thought for the Week

(contributed by Jennifer Doubleday, Head of Personal Development)

I have been very gratified by the number of men enrolling for my new personal development course, Know Yourself and Grow Yourself. Here's a little advance lesson for you all.

The moment you become satisfied is the moment you will stop growing.

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