Science - but not as we know it

February 24, 2011

"We're thinking along very similar lines." That was the response of our Head of Macrame Studies, Professor Sylvia Hitching, to the claim by Michael Earley, principal of the Rose Bruford College of Theatre and Performance, that the drama training offered by his college was often closer to science than arts courses despite being seen as a branch of the humanities.

She pointed out that anyone who was familiar with making reverse square knots and mastering cross-pin techniques would recognise that, much like the characterisation of drama studies by Professor Earley, it was a process "full of toil and almost scientific in the way it trains both the human psyche and the physical side".

Professor Hitching, however, denied that her views on the scientific status of her discipline were in any way connected with her recent insistence on all members of her department wearing long, white, stained coats and thick-rimmed, bifocal spectacles.

UUK is Innocent - OK?

Our vice-chancellor has expressed "deep shock" at the news that student activists intend to picket this week's meeting of Universities UK.

In an interview with our reporter Keith Ponting (30), he said that he found it difficult to see why the UUK was being singled out in this manner. "Apart from sending an open letter urging MPs to vote for the increase in tuition fees and apart from sucking up to Russell Group members who favoured the increase and apart from not defending post-1992 universities who despite widening participation are most likely to be hit by the new fees and apart from failing to point out the total chaos now facing the new funding system as most universities move to a £9,000 tuition charge, it's difficult to see how UUK could in any way be seen as partisan in the current debate."

In response to further questions, our vice-chancellor also firmly denied "the scurrilous rumour" that he had recently attended a meeting on the future of higher education at which a leading Russell Group vice-chancellor had been unable to complete his speech because he'd been emotionally overcome by a fit of "chortling".

You're second-rate - but I like you!

"You only have to look at the academic staff in this university in order to discover the success of our interviewing techniques." That was the vigorous response of Louise Bimpson, the Corporate Director of our ever-expanding Human Resources Department, to the suggestion by Amanda Goodall that interviews were an inefficient way of hiring staff.

Writing in Times Higher Education, Dr Goodall claimed that many interview panellists never read the candidates' papers and tended to choose applicants who were like themselves and whose work posed no threat to their own standing.

But Ms Bimpson said that this was "a deeply partial analysis". Although interviews were inevitably "somewhat marred" by downright ignorance and rank prejudice, they still had an important function. "Anyone who has seen the manner in which members of academic staff positively strut around campus after rejecting a candidate they don't like and who threatens their own status would recognise the vital role played by interviewing in raising staff morale."

Thought for the Week

(contributed by Jennifer Doubleday)

"Would the person concerned please return the large portrait of the vice-chancellor to my office. It is urgently required for tomorrow's Anger Management course. Thank you."

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