Our Head of Research Impact, Gerald Thudd, has welcomed the news that Sir Hartley Grossman, the M. D. of Poppleton Pork Products, will be a specialist Mathematical Science panellist in the 2014 research excellence framework.
Mr Thudd pointed out that one in five of those on the new REF assessment panels would be drawn from companies not unlike Poppleton Pork Products. “This is an enormous improvement on the old research assessment exercise panels, where only 10 per cent of the panellists were from outside the academy and one had the ridiculous situation in which academics were at almost complete liberty to evaluate other academics’ work.”
Sir Hartley was delighted by the news. He told reporter Keith Ponting (30) that he “knew what he liked” when it came to Mathematical Science and greatly looked forward to condemning the sort of research that would make little impact on anyone in his offal rendering plant.
He dismissed the suggestion that there might be something “monumentally absurd” about employing nearly 1,000 people to gauge whether a piece of research had “impact” when few scholars could even agree on the meaning and appropriateness of the term. “Nobody could assess the impact of our Pig Twizzler when it was first introduced,” observed Sir Hartley. “But now look around you. What do you see? Big fat children all over the place.”
An apology for an apology
(With apologies to Private Eye)
This Newsletter may have once given the impression that before becoming Minister of State for Universities and Science, David Willetts was a well-educated, well-read, seriously sophisticated, relatively liberal intellectual. Shortly after his appointment as minister, however, we realised that we were entirely mistaken and that David Willetts was in fact a child of Thatcher with a philistine commitment to bringing the worst elements of the market to bear upon higher education, a determination to privilege second-rate for-profit private providers, and an unhealthy regard for the elitist Russell Group.
However, following the news that he had “a cheeky grin” on his face when talking to Liam Burns, the outgoing leader of the National Union of Students, about the negative attitude of the Treasury to reducing tuition fee waivers, and following praise from Polly Toynbee for his “prolonged and persistent” campaign for a new and costly birth cohort study, we now realise that David Willetts is in fact a well-educated, well-read, seriously sophisticated, relatively liberal intellectual.
We apologise for our misleading apologies.
Hiding in the light
Our Director of Corporate Affairs, Jamie Targett, has publicly challenged the recent claim by Liam Burns, the outgoing leader of the National Union of Students, that the Russell Group is “a shady, behind-the-scenes organisation” that consistently fails to speak on behalf of the wider higher education sector.
Targett agreed that the vice-chancellors in the Russell Group did tend to be “a little in the background” when it came to such matters as offering a public explanation for the fall in the proportion of state-educated students attending their institutions over the past decade. But he insisted that anyone with reasonably good eyesight could readily spot most of them crouching behind the skirts of the Russell Group director general, Wendy Piatt.
Thought for the week
(contributed by Jennifer Doubleday, Head of Personal Development)
“Would the attendee at last week’s management seminar who picked all the low-hanging fruit please return it to the office? Thank you.”