'We're not sheep' - official

June 16, 2011

Our Director of Corporate Affairs, Jamie Targett, has forcefully responded to the suggestion by Quintin McKellar, vice-chancellor of the University of Hertfordshire, that some universities "acted like sheep" and chose to charge the maximum £9,000 fee because they feared that charging less might make them "appear inferior".

Mr Targett admitted that he had no personal knowledge of Professor McKellar or Hertfordshire, but could assure him that in Poppleton's case, the decision to opt for £9,000 had been "only marginally influenced" by the idea of "appearing inferior".

It was, he said, perfectly clear from the minutes of the Poppleton Board of Governors meeting at which the decision on fees was made that everybody present acknowledged the university's genuine inferiority and therefore the logical unlikelihood of it merely "appearing inferior" if it lowered its fees.

However, after extended discussion, the Governors had reluctantly concluded that Poppleton could possibly compound this genuine inferiority by also "appearing to be inferior" and had therefore opted to charge the maximum fee.

Mr Targett said that he hoped this "clarified the situation".

Will you please give a warm welcome

"I couldn't agree more." That was the reaction of Dr Quintock, convenor of staff seminars at the Department of Media and Cultural Studies, to the assertion in Times Higher Education by Alice Bell of Imperial College London that "the occasion of a group of people getting together to hear a paper should be an incredibly exciting event".

Although the last staff seminar in his current programme had attracted only one attendee because of an "unfortunate" clash with ESPN's coverage of the Russian Premier League game between Lokomotiv Moscow and Spartak Nalchik, he could readily instance several "incredibly exciting events" in recent seminars.

There had been the "incredibly exciting" occasion back in 2008 when Professor Liam Shank of the University of Uttoxeter had tripped over the projector cable and fallen headlong across the table bearing the post-seminar glasses of warm white wine, and the "incredibly exciting" moment last November when Dr Georgina McGuire of the University College of Swindon had stepped backwards through the open window of the senior common room while demonstrating the micro-interactional rules of proximal personal distance.

On neither occasion had the staff present displayed any of the "boredom" that Dr Bell claims characterises some staff seminars. Indeed, many admitted they had become "so excited" that they had almost abandoned their ongoing Sudokus.

New Humanities University shock

Concerns about the viability of Poppleton's new Cake Shop University (annual fees £20,000) have grown following reports that Dr Piercemuller, one of its star members of staff, will be offering undergraduate students only one 10-minute tutorial a year.

Speaking to The Poppletonian from his current research base in the Banyan Tree Research Institute in the Seychelles, Dr Piercemuller explained that although he was as ideologically committed as he was financially indebted to the new university, his existing professorial contracts with 11 other universities made it impossible for him "to satisfy all of my students all of the time".

He added that he had been "shocked" by the hostile reception accorded to the new private university by some of his fellow dons. This reaction, he believed, flew in the face of the traditional academic commitment to "sounding one's mouth off at the drop of a cheque".

Thought for the Week

(contributed by Jennifer Doubleday, Head of Personal Development)

"Next week's After Compulsory Retirement Seminar will deal with the pitfalls of Assisted Death."

lolsoc@dircon.co.uk.

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