Racking up the marks?

June 21, 2012

Our Director of Corporate Affairs, Jamie Targett, has announced that he will be "following in the steps" of Queen's University Belfast by considering legal action against a former academic who has claimed that lecturers at his old university were under "intense pressure to ensure that students pass their courses".

Targett told The Poppletonian that there was "no evidence whatsoever" for the recent "revelation" by Dr Arnold Crosier (formerly of our Medieval Studies for Business Department) that some lecturers at Poppleton had been "tortured" into raising student marks. It was true, Targett acknowledged, that all undergraduates at Poppleton now passed all their courses, but these "excellent results" were in no way a product of "intense pressure". They arose quite naturally from the growing intellectual recognition by sensitive and thoughtful academics that "everyone else was at it".

"It is", added Targett, "a philosophical truism that anyone with a thorough empirical appreciation of the way the land lies and a deep hermeneutic understanding of the manner in which their bread is buttered never needs to be shown anything so crude as a thumbscrew."

Some teachers get no apples

"These findings may well play a part in our future staff recruitment strategy." That was how our Deputy Head of Student Experience, Nancy Harbinger, reacted to recent research findings cited by Paul Blackledge, UCU branch secretary at Leeds Metropolitan University, showing that university teachers who are male, tall, white and good-looking are more likely to receive high ratings on the National Student Survey than those who lack such characteristics.

Ms Harbinger was, however, unable to estimate the extent to which this might influence NSS ratings at Poppleton in that there were currently no academic staff who satisfied all the criteria. "We have loads of white males," she admitted, "but whether as a result of past recruitment policies or sheer accident, it would seem that all of them are also short and ugly."

One of our leading academics, Professor G. Lapping, described Ms Harbinger's remarks as "deeply offensive". "I'm not denying", he said, "that this university has a surplus of ill-favoured, stunted, white, male lecturers. But it should be borne in mind that many of these were both tall and good-looking when originally appointed." (Professor Lapping is on the short side of things.)

Thought for the week

(contributed by Jennifer Doubleday, Head of Personal Development)

A rather naughty thought about management this week: "The key to being a good manager is keeping the people who hate you away from those who are still undecided."

Are there strawberries still for tea?

There were ugly scenes and "threats of violence" at last week's meeting of the Degree Day Merchandising Committee.

The dispute arose when the Head of University Portion Control, Denise Tangent, announced that the total number of strawberries in the traditional £12.50 Degree Day "strawberries and cream" punnet package for visitors and parents would be reduced this year from seven to five.

In the ensuing debate our head of English and Related Studies, Professor F.R. Beavis, argued that it was "dangerously illiterate" to use the word "punnet" to describe a plastic bowl containing no more than five fruits. He cited a number of literary works in which "punnet" has been alliteratively and semantically associated with "plenty", "plenitude" and "plumpness". After extensive discussion it was agreed by a majority of two that the diminution of the strawberry component in the degree-day offer would be acknowledged by referring to it as a "punnette". We hope this clarifies the situation.

lolsoc@dircon.co.uk.

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