'Squeeze me - I like it'

July 7, 2011

Fears that the changes announced in the government White Paper on higher education might lead to Poppleton becoming the most squeezed university in England have been dismissed by our vice-chancellor.

Speaking at a press conference in the new Pig's Bladder Teaching Resource Centre, our vice-chancellor agreed that Poppleton would not be able to attract a single one of the extra places for students with AAB grades at A level. Neither would Poppleton's present fees of £9,000 a year enable it to attract any of the extra places reserved for less costly universities.

However, he believed that Poppleton should take advantage of this "very special position" and advertise itself as the ideal university for all those students who do not come from the overprivileged backgrounds that ensure top grades at A level or from the underprivileged backgrounds that made cheapness and low standards of entry an attraction.

"Poppleton", he went on, "can become nationally known as the ideal university for all those with both middle-to-low ability and middle-to-high income."

The vice-chancellor then proudly unveiled our new logo: "Neither Cheap Nor Elite".

Trust me, I'm from the QAA

A spokesman for the Quality Assurance Agency has given a cautious welcome to the suggestion by David Willetts that there should be a reduction in the number of assurance visits paid to "well-regarded" institutions. He said that this was very much in line with the QAA's traditional finding that universities of high status were invariably much better in every way than some of the messy former polytechnics that its inspectors were forced to visit.

However, he had some mild concerns about Mr Willetts' description of the current system as "unwieldy" and gently queried his reference to some universities having to devote "huge rooms" to the storage of QAA files.

There was a danger, he said, that such comments might give some encouragement to those traditionally misinformed critics of the QAA who had tended to regard its vital work as "a time-consuming, form-filling, flatulent, bureaucratic, centralised example of totally ineffectual micromanagement".

Include me out

Our Head of English and Related Studies, Professor F.R. Beavis, has announced that he will be joining the 40-odd humanities academics who have declared their intention to resign from the Arts and Humanities Research Council Peer Review College unless the AHRC removes research on New Punitive Measures for Social Security Scroungers from its list of strategic priorities.

A spokesman for the AHRC said that a commitment to funding research into new ways of punishing benefit cheats was in no way prompted by the present government's commitment to finding new ways to punish benefit cheats. And in any case, the council had had the idea long before the present government was elected, and in any case how could you expect to get any money at all if you didn't suck up to the government occasionally, and in any case most of those complaining were the sort of people who had helped to give the humanities such a bad name with the very lovely Mr Willetts.

Thought for the Week

(contributed by Jennifer Doubleday, Head of Personal Development)

"Next week's seminar in our dieting programme will be led by Liz Schafer, Professor of Drama and Theatre Studies at Royal Holloway, University of London, who will explain how she lost several thousand pounds in a single year simply by being a woman."

lolsoc@dircon.co.uk.

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