Your doctorate’s been doctored

July 31, 2014

In a shock move, the governors of our university have revoked the honorary doctorate that was bestowed upon the minister for science and universities, David Willetts, shortly after his accession to the post in May 2010.

In a formal statement, the governors explained that this decision had been “regretfully taken” following press revelations that the former minister had been personally implicated in “a historic string of fiddling offences”.

Among these “fiddles” was the “dangerously seductive and totally unrealised promise” that under the new tuition fees regime, higher education institutions would charge the full £9,000 tuition fee only “in exceptional circumstances”.

But the list of “calculated deceptions” committed by our honorary graduate (honoris causa) also included “lengthy and persistent abusive fiddling” with the percentage figures for the repayment of student loans.

In the view of our governors, these offences were particularly heinous as their principal victims were often “the naive and trusting members” of such groups as Universities UK.

In a final paragraph, the governors express their sympathy with all those other gullible figures in higher education whose implicit trust in Mr Willetts has been so tragically violated.


Sighs and whispers

“This now makes perfect sense.”

That was how our Director of Corporate Affairs, Jamie Targett, responded to leaked details of the charges being brought by the University of Warwick against its distinguished professor of English, Thomas Docherty.

Targett told our reporter, Keith Ponting (30), that he had originally been “mildly alarmed” by the range and severity of the sanctions imposed upon Professor Docherty by Warwick. As from January, he had been excluded from the campus, banned from any contact with former colleagues and students, prevented from attending an academic conference on “the increasingly authoritarian nature of universities” and refused permission to write a preface for a new book.

“On the face of it,” Targett admitted, “such an extensive list of prohibitions together with Warwick’s six-month-long failure to make the charges against Professor Docherty explicit might well lead hostile critics to talk rashly of ‘McCarthyism’.

“But”, said Targett, “everything has now changed. Now that we know from the leaks that Professor Docherty not only projected ‘negative body language’ during interviews for a new member of the department but also made ‘ironic’ comments and emitted ‘sighs’, we can only marvel that Warwick has drawn back from the summary execution that such dangerously subversive behaviour would undoubtedly prompt in less progressive institutions of higher education. So, well done, Warwick. Your liberalism is a shining beacon for the whole university sector”.


Thought for the week

(contributed by Jennifer Doubleday, Head of Personal Development)

Following news that a university may be taking action against an academic for making ‘ironic’ comments, we have arranged a special therapeutic session for any Poppleton academic who suspects that they may have been knowingly or unknowingly ironic about any aspect of our university. Mark your application: ‘Our vice-chancellor is worth every penny’.

Times Higher Education free 30-day trial

You've reached your article limit.

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Technical Officer (Paramedic)

Staffordshire University

Professor in Marketing

Henley Business School

Lecturer or Senior Lecturer in Social Work

University Of The West Of Scotland

Research Service Manager

London School Of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (lshtm)
See all jobs

Most Commented

Daniel Mitchell illustration (29 June 2017)

Academics who think they can do the work of professional staff better than professional staff themselves are not showing the kind of respect they expect from others

As the pay of BBC on-air talent is revealed, one academic comes clean about his salary

Senior academics at Teesside University put at risk of redundancy as summer break gets under way

Capsized woman and boat

Early career academics can be left to sink or swim when navigating the choppy waters of learning scholarly writing. Helen Sword says a more formal, communal approach can help everyone, especially women

Thorns and butterflies

Conditions that undermine the notion of scholarly vocation – relentless work, ubiquitous bureaucracy – can cause academics acute distress and spur them to quit, says Ruth Barcan