That letter: our vc's response

December 9, 2010

In a dramatic statement, our vice-chancellor has announced that he is still "more or less in two minds" about adding his signature to the UUK letter of support for the government plans on higher education.

He told our reporter, Keith Ponting (30), that on the one hand he recognised that the Browne proposals would mark the end of higher education as a public good and effectively ensure the future demise of Poppleton University.

But on the other hand, it was "very gratifying" to receive a personal letter from an organisation that had traditionally tended to eschew anything "which smacked of democratic decision making". He also admitted that he was "influenced" by his admiration for those members of the Russell Group who were in favour of the new proposals. "When they can find a minute in between their faction meetings they often talk to me as an equal. Only recently one of them said he would consider supporting my next application to join the Athenaeum."

When further pressed by Ponting, our vice-chancellor intimated that he might "compromise" on the issue by signing the UUK letter in very faint handwriting and failing to post it back on time.

Thought for the Week

(contributed by Jennifer Doubleday, Head of Personal Development)

Here's a little thought for all our colleagues in arts, humanities and social sciences:

"In retirement, every day is Boss Day and every day is Employee Appreciation Day."

Nobody does it better

The recent suggestion by Lord Willis of Knaresborough that the Quality Assurance Agency should no longer remain in the control of the university sector has been described as "unhelpful" by Jamie Targett, our Director of Corporate Affairs.

Targett conceded that in the new Tesco-oriented approach to higher education it was "mildly inappropriate" to have the manufacturers of higher education products assessing their own commodities. However, he felt that Lord Willis was quite wrong to imply that the present QAA lacked objectivity. In fact, Targett pointed out, the QAA had always shied away from such wholly subjective matters as asking students themselves about the nature of their experience and relied instead upon the clinical objective information provided by enormously lengthy forms.

Goodbye to all that culture

Janet Fluellen, our Director of Curriculum Development, has admitted that she will not be "personally sorry" if the new government proposals to withdraw the teaching grant for the arts, humanities and social sciences leads to the closure of such courses at Poppleton.

"Over the years", she told The Poppletonian, "we've had nothing but trouble from members of these disciplines. While our scientists work away uncomplainingly in their laboratories, staff from arts, humanities and social sciences are forever bleating on about such essentially marginal matters as the reduction of the university to a market-oriented production line."

She added that she was all in favour of people reading old novels and knowing bits of philosophy and understanding words such as "alienation" and "anomie", but thought that they could just as easily do this at home and "thereby save the university a great deal of time and space".

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