"Someone is waking up and smelling the coffee!" That was the reaction of our Head of Marketing, Graham Flair, to the forecast by Tim McIntyre-Bhatty, deputy vice-chancellor of Bournemouth University, that UK universities would soon be spending more than 20 per cent of their revenue on marketing.
Professor McIntyre-Bhatty, who was speaking at a session on university marketing organised by Times Higher Education and The Parthenon Group, which advises universities on private investment, also delighted Mr Flair by forecasting that such an increased spend would begin within the next 12 months.
Asked by our reporter, Keith Ponting (30), if allocating a fifth of your entire revenue to marketing might detract from the value of the educational experience, Mr Flair quoted Matt Robb of The Parthenon Group, who had answered this very question by saying, "It depends on whether you take a system perspective or an institutional perspective."
"What Mr Robb is saying," explained Mr Flair, "is that you either throw your money away on such things as teaching - the system perspective - or you spend it on the real business of your university - the institutional perspective - getting bums on seats."
Mr Flair was dismissive of Ponting's suggestion that such an increased spend might be wasted if all other universities followed suit. "The first principle of higher education marketing", he explained, "is that one spends more and more money in order to stay in almost exactly the same place. It's not an easy job, but someone has to do it."
Me, myself and I
Poppleton social psychologist Mike Goshworthy has responded with enthusiasm to a call for academics to write more accessible prose. Dr Goshworthy told The Poppletonian that he had already pre-empted some of the suggestions in Helen Sword's recent article in Times Higher Education by writing his most recent research article in the more "personal manner" that she recommended. He was kind enough to allow us to reproduce the opening paragraphs:
"It was a cruel April morning as I made my way down the long sepulchral corridor to the laboratory where I was to conduct the final experiments in my research project on the relationship between left-handedness and an ability to throw knives at half-naked women without hitting them.
"Although the results had been going well, on this particular morning I was overcome by a deep sense of ennui. What was the point of it all? Why was my academic life now measured out in REF submissions? I looked at the 24 right-handed students who formed my control group and found that, almost without thinking, I had reached out for one of the experimental knives. Slowly, ever so slowly, I raised it to my..."
(The full version of this paper: "Sinistral Laterality and Impalement Proficiency: Problems and Prospects" will appear in the British Journal of Social Psychological Inconsequentialities in around about a year.)
Thought for the week
(contributed by Jennifer Doubleday, Head of Personal Development)
Last term, academic staff voted for the programmes of personal development that they thought would be most relevant to them in the coming term. I am now pleased to confirm that the following courses will be on offer from Monday 1 October:
Combat pistol shooting