Piercemuller in Parliament

March 12, 2009

"Students aren't what they used to be." That was the dramatic assertion made by our own Doctor Piercemuller when he recently addressed the House of Commons Innovation, Universities, Science and Skills Select Committee.

Doctor Piercemuller told the committee by video link from his research base in the Virgin Islands that he'd been "profoundly shocked" by the incompetence of the students he'd encountered in the seminars he'd managed to "squeeze in" between his extended periods of research work.

"In the good old days," he said, "students were perfectly happy with their lot. But nowadays they complain that book lists are inadequate, that they're taught by underqualified research students, that seminars are too large, that their work is not marked on time, that staff don't even know their names and that they have to work part time in order to feed and clothe themselves. But quite honestly, none of that is an excuse for their appalling spelling."

Doctor Piercemuller also told the committee that he had been alarmed to learn that students who enrolled for one of his own cancelled courses had been given "compensation" by the examiners. "No wonder", he concluded, "that standards are falling and that a lower second degree is no longer the mark of distinction that it was when I obtained my own degree in the good old days."

Any Old Irony

Janet Fluellen, our Director of Curriculum Development, has confirmed that our university will shortly be introducing a new undergraduate degree in Ironic Studies. She told The Poppletonian that although Irony was of increasing importance in sports commentaries ("how ironic that Aston Villa should be playing on a Tuesday"), it had not previously been considered a discipline in its own right.

She announced that the subject would initially be taught as one half of a newly constituted joint degree in Irony and Homoeopathic Science, but insisted that in the future it would find a more established place in the curriculum. "There are", she pointed out, "many other aspects of the university that might well lend themselves to an Ironic input."

Publish and be Charged

Our university was honoured last week by a visit from Dave Bonanzer, the CEO of Cashmachine plc, one of the world's leading publishers of academic journals. Speaking to library staff, Mr Bonanzer praised the contribution made to scholarship by large-annual-increase-in-subscription-price journals.

"We must firmly resist", he told the seminar, "the dangerous moves being made towards open-access publishing by such institutions as Boston University. In difficult economic times, it is more important than ever that we preserve the tried-and-trusted process in which the Government funds research that, when completed, can only be assessed by unpaid peer reviewers and then published years later in private profit-making journals."

After taking questions, Mr Bonanzer was photographed alongside some of his more remunerative journals.

Thought for the Week

(contributed by Jennifer Doubleday, Head of Personal Development)

Please note that next week's introductory workshop on Yang will also include material on Yin as I now understand that Yang cannot exist by itself. It was while pondering this error that I came across this little piece of reassurance:

Remember, there are no mistakes, only lessons. Love yourself, trust your choices and everything is possible.

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