"We are already consulting our libel lawyers." That was the immediate reaction of our Director of Corporate Affairs, Jamie Targett, to the news that another institution of higher education was claiming to be a "good-quality sausage factory".
The claim came from Katie Best, director of the fast-track MBA programme at BPP Business School, currently the only private-sector company to have the power to award university degrees in the UK.
Targett said that the libel action would be based on Ms Best's repetitive references to the high quality of the sausage degrees produced by her institution and her insistence that: "Just as a real sausage factory's licence to operate depends on hygiene standards that are zealously guarded, BPP has hygiene standards of its own: degree-awarding powers."
Such statements, said Targett, "wilfully ignored" Poppleton University's pioneering work with Poppleton Pork Products on the creation of top-of-the-range sausage degrees. It was also "seriously misleading" for Ms Best to imply that the BPP's readiness to deliver an MBA in 10 months was a sausage first. Poppleton was already working on a six-month, reduced-offal sausage MBA and had plans to deliver super-fast-track, no-gristle MAs in a wide range of other subjects.
Open all hours
Our vice-chancellor has welcomed the insistence by Professor Birtwhistle of the Oxford Centre for Higher Education Policy Studies that members of a university should be prepared for serious consequences if they criticised management.
Speaking to our reporter, Keith Ponting (30), the vice-chancellor said he agreed with Professor Birtwhistle's argument that "if someone worked for a shop and said something condemning its management ... they would get into hot water and expect to have a hard time. Academics should not be exempt from this."
He added that he found Professor Birtwhistle's comparison of the university to a shop "particularly helpful". It was very much in line with his own intention to refer to degrees as "product lines" and to relabel academics as "sales assistants".
Not everyone at Poppleton was impressed. An academic from the Department of Media and Cultural Studies, who spoke off the record and in a disguised voice from behind a screen, said thinking of the university as a shop was hardly helpful in that the present vice-chancellor had shown during his five-year incumbency that he'd be "hard-pressed to run a whelk stall".
A nasty smell of logic
A major clean-up operation has begun in our university after the unexpected discovery of some remaining fragments of Philosophy.
Although the high research-rated Poppleton Philosophy Department was closed down last year in accord with Hefce's Smash the Humanities policy document, it appears that small deposits of logic and reason have remained lodged in the crevices of a number of other degree courses.
Announcing the clean-up, our Director of Curriculum Development, Janet Fluellen, pointed out that such elements had no place in a modern business-facing university. "Quite frankly", she told The Poppletonian, "whenever I hear the word 'philosophy', I reach for my gun."
Thought for the Week
(contributed by Jennifer Doubleday, Head of Personal Development)
"Because of a confusion in dates, Dr T.B. Tesler will not be available to take his Anger Management course this Friday. He would like all members of his group to know that he was not in any way responsible for the mix-up and that anyone who says otherwise is in line for a good kicking."