Pork chop shock

November 11, 2010

Our university has expressed "deep shock" at this week's announcement by the Higher Education Funding Council for England that its highly rated degree in Pork Studies will no longer be accredited as a STEM subject and will therefore, in line with Lord Browne's recommendations, be ineligible for future government funding.

A Hefce spokesperson explained that the decision had been taken after careful examination of the course curriculum revealed several alarming non-STEM ingredients.

Although individual courses in sausage chemistry, pork pie technology and the mathematics of bacon slicing fell within the STEM ambit, Hefce had noted with concern in-course philosophical references to Thomas Carlyle's characterisation of utilitarianism as "pig philosophy", as well as an entire option devoted to the extensive literary characterisation of pigs in Animal Farm and the critical role played by Piglet in Winnie-the-Pooh.

Janet Fluellen, our Director of Curriculum Development, insisted that these were only "humanity scratchings" and not essential course components. She described Hefce's decision as a "fundamental failure to recognise the contribution of pigs to the British economy" that would "put Pig Studies on the back trotter for many years to come".

Just say 'no' to books

Our thrusting Director of Corporate Affairs, Jamie Targett, has responded with alacrity to the call made during a debate on libraries hosted by Times Higher Education for a change in the behaviour of academics that will "stop them craving books".

He announced that from the beginning of next term, all academics who display serious evidence of book addiction will be required to attend a four-week literary detoxification course. In the first part of the programme, they will be systematically exposed to pictures of books while simultaneously receiving a series of short electric shocks.

In the second part, they will be exposed to pictures of online digital resources and receive a "reward" of a dozen Smarties after each exposure.

The course will conclude with a grand "online" dinner followed by a ceremonial bonfire of books contributed by the new addiction-free academics.

Targett said there was every indication that the new course will be as effective as the recent lobotomy programme that had aided academics with a "pathological addiction" to research ethics.

Thought for the week

(contributed by Jennifer Doubleday, Head of Personal Development)

"Next week's special ecology seminar will discuss the room options available to those who wish to have confidential meetings about who should be sacked."

Is your number up (or down)?

"We fully support the University of Manchester's initiative." That was the unequivocal response of Brian Bryan, our Deputy Head of REF Strategy, to the news that Manchester will be repeating its exercise of assigning numerical scores to academic staff on the basis of their research output.

Mr Bryan told our reporter Keith Ponting (30) that Poppleton's decision to follow the Manchester example had been "a great success" and denied that there was anything arbitrary about the "capricious allocation of such numerical signifiers".

He went on to describe the recent proposal by Ted Odgers (Media Studies, Number 126) that similar numerical scores be assigned to members of our ever-expanding management team as "frivolous".

"It is", he said, "a fact that the results achieved by university management are inherently incapable of measurement."

lolsoc@dircon.co.uk.

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