Stop going on holiday!

August 11, 2011

Jamie Targett, our Director of Corporate Affairs, has once again warned that academics who depart from SLERP ("statutory leave email referral protocol") will face disciplinary action.

Targett pointed out that SLERP required all standard email indications of absence to include the precise dates of departure and return (eg, 15-19 August), details of an alternative point of contact (eg, Maureen in the Enquiries Office) and a capitalised version of the new Poppleton logo ("CHEAPER THAN MOST. BETTER THAN SOME").

This meant that there should be no use of such "misleadingly libertarian terms" as "holiday", "vacation" or "me time", or indeed any reference to the nominated period of statutory leave being "welcome", "well earned" or "about the only thing that currently stands between me and self-immolation".

Mr Targett (statutory leave in September) hoped that this now finally clarified the situation.

Knock, knock. Who's there? Poppleton

Our vice-chancellor, who is currently taking his statutory period of constitutionally agreed leave in a beach hotel in Thailand (alternative point of contact, Mrs Dilworth), has confirmed by satellite phone that Poppleton has applied for membership of the elite Russell Group of universities.

He told our reporter, Keith Ponting (30; statutory leave 5-9 September), that the unexpected move had been prompted by the news that the Russell Group's "exclusive status" had recently been "shattered" by evidence that several of its current members had fewer high-prestige AAB students than universities that had previously been denied membership.

After a brief pause occasioned by the arrival of the hotel masseuse, the vice-chancellor explained how this news provided distinct encouragement to Poppleton.

"The fact that the Russell Group now clearly contains such newly discovered second-rank AAB universities as Cardiff, Liverpool and Newcastle suggests that it may be in the process of moving away from its elitist tradition towards a more democratic future.

"And, frankly, what could possibly be more democratic than now inviting Poppleton, one of the UK's top-ranked fifth-rate universities, to join its number?"

Never mind the quality: feel the report

It would seem that all those who have expressed concerns about a possible decline in academic standards can now relax.

According to the Quality Assurance Agency, which recently completed a careful study of the tens of thousands of pages of audits submitted by 76 universities, standards are now "robust and effective".

Even the apparently well-founded suspicion that lots and lots more first-class degrees are being handed out (grade inflation) in order to improve the league table ranking and the finances of individual universities was quite unjustified.

This "fear" had, in the QAA's own words, been allayed by greater "regulatory clarity and the more systematic use of cross-institutional classification algorithms".

In recommending the QAA conclusions to all members of staff, our Head of QAA Form Completion, Gerald Section (statutory leave taken last week), said that they provided further evidence of the QAA's unrivalled ability to prove its own worth by showing how quickly universities could learn to conform to a series of elaborate quality checks that had little or nothing to do with their actual practice.

Thought for the Week

(contributed by Jennifer Doubleday, Head of Personal Development)

Doctor to nurse, who stands by the bed of a very red-faced patient: "Nurse, I distinctly told you to prick his boil."

(A little joke I spotted on a postcard during my statutory leave - 15-19 August - in Skegness. Hope you like it.)

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