Squeeze me - I like it!

April 5, 2012

Our vice-chancellor has responded vigorously to news that Poppleton has become England's most "squeezed middle university".

He told a hastily convened press conference in the atrium of the Human Resources Complex that our university had achieved this prominent position as a result of its strategic decision to stick to very high tuition fees despite not having a snowball's chance in hell of attracting more AAB students.

He admitted that this policy had led to a decline in student numbers and an associated drop in the size of the university's recurrent grant, and also agreed that Poppleton's determination to stick to this policy in future years would lead to even greater falls in student numbers and Hefce grant.

However, he pointed out that this would, in time, ensure that the undergraduate intake at Poppleton is composed almost entirely of students who were both educationally third rate and economically incompetent.

This "educational niche" would give Poppleton a vital edge over those other universities that relied solely on either low fees or high standards as their distinctive selling points.

He told colleagues that they should be "out and proud" about their university's new "first" and announced that he personally would lead the promotional campaign under the slogan: "Squeezed middle - c'est moi!"

An 'offal' mistake

"Most unfortunate." That was how Dr D.B. Lardon, the Head of our Department of Pork Studies, reacted to a recent assault on the whole concept of sausages by Howard Davies, the former director of the London School of Economics.

Dr Lardon told our reporter Keith Ponting (30) that Professor Davies had used a column in Times Higher Education as an opportunity to undermine the value of these distinctive pork products by comparing them to university rankings and arguing that "those who have digested...league tables and looked hard at the criteria and the inputs tend to see them as sausages: the more you know what goes into the mix, the less keen you are to consume them".

"One had hoped", Dr Lardon told Ponting, that "this sort of uninformed comment about sausages would now be in retreat following the widespread recognition that sausage-making was not only a skilled profession but also a procedure that provided the best possible analogy for contemporary university education."

Your starter for nothing

The University of Manchester's success in this year's University Challenge has again raised questions about Poppleton's poor showing in this popular television series. For although our university has entered teams for the past 22 years, not one has yet made it past the competition's "weeding-out" stage.

According to Christine Hovis, our Deputy Head of Corporate Branding, these failures can be read as a testament to Poppleton's strategic decision to exclude all aspects of general knowledge from its undergraduate courses so as to fall in line with the government's emphasis on universities serving primarily the interests of the economy.

"It's all very well knowing the name of the third-highest mountain in Peru," she said, "but that's hardly going to expand the country's GDP."

Ms Hovis also explained that some of our teams had been handicapped by the inability of members to keep a straight face when required, during the show's introduction, to use the word "reading" to characterise their course of study at Poppleton.

Thought for the week

(Contributed by Jennifer Doubleday, Head of Personal Development)

"Next week's seminar on the contribution of popular music to student assessment is titled 'Help me get my feedback on the ground'."


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