Universities and civilisation - our Chancellor speaks

July 16, 2009

Here is an extract from the speech given by our Chancellor at last week's Social Science graduation ceremony in the David Lammy Concert Hall.

Proud parents and graduands

I am delighted to have this opportunity to speak to you on this very special day. Many people these days take what might be called an instrumental approach to university education. They think of the three years that are spent on campus as simply stepping stones towards careers. People of this persuasion bemoan the fact that there are now 48 applicants for each graduate post. They lament the news that their sons and daughters will have spent three years racking up huge debts that they'll now find impossible to repay.

This is a very short-sighted view. As many important elderly people whose names I can't quite remember have always insisted, university is essentially a civilising institution, a place where knowledge has a value in its own right rather than as a means to an end, a place where one can form habits of mind and modes of sensibility that will last a lifetime. These are gains that cannot be measured in brute pounds and shillings or in mere jobs and careers. They are truly beyond price.

(Copies of the speech are available from the Graduation Office. Mark your envelope "Volte-face".)

QAA fights back

In our editorial last week we suggested that David Cameron's recent pledge to cut the number of quangos might mean that time was running out for the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA). Our suggestion prompted this reply:

Dear Editor

All of us here at the QAA were distressed to read last week's editorial in The Poppletonian. Your esteemed organ should know that only recently the QAA conducted a very robust examination of its own quality. In the course of this examination we looked in detail at every one of our own quality evaluations and found that they were uniformly positive. We were therefore able to assure ourselves that there was nothing whatsoever that needed improving about our overall quality and that we should therefore continue in the same old way for ever. We hope this clarifies the situation.

G.T. Golightly, Head of Public Communications at QAA (and 146 others)

Are we on the little list?

Rumours that this university may be one of the institutions listed by the Higher Education Funding Council for England as "at risk" have been denounced by our Director of Corporate Affairs, Jamie Targett.

Speaking to our reporter, Keith Ponting (30), Targett pointed out that, after advice from the Information Commissioner's Office, the institutions on this list would not be named. "This means", he said, "that no one can say with certainty that Poppleton is on the list. That we have appeared on every other published 'at risk' list is neither here nor there. Indeed, we can take comfort from the fact that as no one knows whether we're on the list, we could just as easily be not on it as on it. In this respect, we can count our blessings going forward."

Thought for the Week

(contributed by Jennifer Doubleday, Head of Personal Development)

Apologies. A clerical oversight meant that the name of Ted Odgers was inadvertently excluded from the recently published list of the Narcotics Anonymous Group.

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