Poppleton college slammed

December 11, 2014

Poppleton’s leading private for-profit higher education college, the Great British College of Business, Computing, Technology and Management, has been “shamed” in a new report from the government’s spending watchdog, the National Audit Office.

The Poppleton college, which is wholly owned by the US private equity company Fleece and Overhead, has recently been going from strength to strength as it takes up its share of the £900 million that the Student Loans Company will this year bestow upon students at colleges run by private providers.

But it would appear that the Poppleton college, in common with some other private providers (including the London School of Science and Technology, ICON College of Technology and Management and the UK College of Business and Computing), has had a student dropout rate above 20 per cent in recent years, as compared with the 4 per cent dropout rate across the rest of the sector.

However, the Managing Director (formerly the Vice-Chancellor) of the Poppleton private college, Professor Jake Gogetter, claimed that such figures could easily give the impression that an institution such as his own ruthlessly recruited as many students as it could in order to grab their tuition fees and was only too delighted when a large number dropped out, leaving their fees behind them.

This impression, said Professor Gogetter, was “only being peddled” by those who were “ideologically opposed” to people making fat profits out of higher education.

“Always remember”, he continued, “that what we are talking about here is a basic freedom: the freedom for private for-profit colleges of higher education to grow and grow without any effective controls whatsoever. It is what I like to describe to my applauding shareholders at our AGM as ‘the Willetts bonus’.”


Space invaders

“I have every sympathy with Falmouth.”

That was how Mike Cram, our Head of Spatial Optimisation, responded to the news that Falmouth University is to close its degree in contemporary crafts.

Although Mr Cram admitted that he’d never before heard of Falmouth University, he “totally supported” that institution’s decision to close a course on the grounds that it had, in the words of its senior deputy vice-chancellor Geoff Smith, necessitated “heavy space utilisation”.

Mr Cram said that very similar “space utilisation considerations” had lain behind Poppleton’s recent decisions to close its own degrees in Ballroom Dancing, Marine Biology and Dry-Stone Wall Building.

Neither did Mr Cram have any sympathy for those critics who had described the Falmouth decision as leading to a “contraction of the craft economy”.

Craft, said Mr Cram, was all very well on shelves, but no one concerned with space utilisation could possibly justify having large areas of the campus taken up with hacksaws, soldering irons, embroidery needles, half-made quilts and pottery wheels.

Indeed, said Mr Cram, it was the “brute exigencies of space utilisation” that had led Poppleton to develop its own “space minimal” degrees in Microeconomics, Nanotechnology and Contemporary Welsh Philosophy.


Thought for the week

(contributed by Jennifer Doubleday, Head of Personal Development)

“Our special celebration evening for those who have conquered their former obesity will be held this Friday. Join us for half a cup of lemon juice and the celebratory release into the night sky of two dozen gastric balloons.”


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Reader's comments (3)

I’m sure Falmouth University's Deputy Vice-Chancellor Geoff Smith and Professor Anne Carlisle, the university's Vice-Chancellor – or CEO as she styles herself – will be most appreciative of Mr Cram’s support. The Great British College of Business, Computing, Technology and Management sounds like an institution that – like Falmouth – is moving boldly into the brave new world of higher education, taking no prisoners along the way. I trust its Managing Director is as well rewarded as Falmouth’s CEO (£254k p/a including pension contributions). I hope Mr Cram and his colleagues will take the opportunity to read Professor Carlisle’s excellent recent piece in the Telegraph, in which she describes the valuable contribution of our creative industries to the UK economy. The two products of these industries that she singles out as ‘world class’ are Downton Abbey and Grand Theft Auto V – choices that reveal the sharp difference between leaders of Professor Carlisle’s calibre and the sort of backward-looking types who harp on about cultural values and academic integrity. Unfortunately, there are still far too many of these at Falmouth University. I wonder whether the two institutions might be interested in exploring the possibility of a partnership arrangement? Such arrangements can be mutually highly beneficial, and I’m sure each would have much to learn from the other. Partnerships can lead to important new revenue streams, too, as they did for Professor Carlisle’s last university, the University of Wales Newport. Until, that is, the QAA focused its attention on some of the partners in question and produced a report that led to the University of Wales being declared a ‘toxic brand’ and dissolved into its constituent parts. Many would think the QAA’s actions showed a lamentable lack of understanding of the need for a more entrepreneurial, profit-oriented approach to higher education. Just such a spirit as the Great British College of Business, Computing, Technology and Management has in spades!
Incidentally, I wonder if Mr Cram is available for external consultancy work? Falmouth's CEO has been telling her staff of the university's new goal: to double student numbers from the current 4000 to 8000 by 2020. On its website, the university currenty describes itself as 'proudly small and specialist', and this ambitious growth plan will obviously entail some formidable 'spatial optimisation' challenges. Mr Cram's expertise in stacking 'em high could be extremely useful, I would imagine.
A protest against the closure of the Contemporary Crafts course at Falmouth University has been described as, “misguided” by a university spokesperson. Dr Anne Othasoot was responding to criticism about the decision to replace the world renowned mixed media course with a ‘Games Academy’. “While I’m sure the protest’s heart is in the right place, their efforts are misguided as this certainly isn’t the end of craft education at Falmouth: in fact quite the opposite.” Dr.Othasoot explained, “The games academy will place craft at the heart of its curriculum, with modules on ‘Minecraft’ and ‘World of Warcraft’ being major components of the students learning process and intrinsic to the sense of place of the course”. ”The lateral thinking required to protect your sheep from Creepers, by building a wall of lava cannot be understated, and these bold and experimental uses of 21st century materials will see craft becoming more cutting edge and relevant to real world problems than ever before”. “At the same time our ‘World of Warcraft’ module will teach our students the benefits of well-forged virtual weaponry in beheading Orcs, Wraiths and other fantastical beasts. Simultaneously, female students, or those male students wishing to experience the world through the eyes of another gender will gain valuable insight into wearing bearskin bikinis in a battle situation, which ties in perfectly with our current Performance Sportswear Design BA, (Hons) course as well as going a small way towards gender equality.” “All in all it would be hard to find a more holistic approach to 21st century craft than the one we’re offering prospective students”.

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