You're so vain!

July 28, 2011

"Absolutely right! Couldn't agree more! Spot on!"

These were just a few of the enthusiastic reactions from Donald Ringling, our Head of Marketing and Promotion, to the recent proposal by Peter Reader, Director of Marketing and Communications at the University of Portsmouth, that marketing staff should be the people to ensure that universities were offering appropriate courses.

Reader had, in Ringling's view, "hit the nail bang on the head" when he insisted that marketing staff should prevent academics from developing "vanity courses" and that institutions should rely upon "focus groups" to gauge the likely popularity of new courses.

Ringling told our reporter Keith Ponting (30) that Reader's views were a "hugely welcome sign that university marketing people were at last coming out of the closet" and making their voices heard in "the corridors of power".

"For far too long," he continued, "we have contented ourselves with trying to sell academic courses which only ever existed in the first place because academics thought they made significant contributions to knowledge.

"But now, at last," he went on, "we may be on the way towards that promised land of marketing, where products are only created in the first place because focus groups show that they're exactly what the public wants. Always remember that Mr Fry didn't make his Turkish Delight because it delighted him. He made it because the public said it delighted them."

Although at this point in the interview, Ponting pleaded other commitments, Ringling insisted upon also recording his "profound agreement" with Reader's further suggestion that the university marketing department should play a greater role in branding courses because "the academic world is full of jargon and one of our tasks is to make sure what we mean is understood outside the university".

"That simply couldn't be more true," said Ringling.

"Why do we insist on such jargon names as Molecular Microbiology or Computational Physics or Abrahamic Religions?

"I mean, could you imagine your average punter going into a supermarket and buying a product with one of those labels?

"I'll tell you another thing..."

(Keith Ponting is now 31).

Gissa job!

Suggestions that Poppleton's decision to charge tuition fees of £9,000 next year is difficult to reconcile with new figures showing that none of last year's graduates has yet been successful in obtaining employment have been dismissed as "mischievous" by Hilary Term, our Deputy Head of Creative Graduate Employment Statistics.

She told The Poppletonian that the university's "relatively poor" figures were, as in the case of the University of the Highlands and Islands, partly attributable to the manner in which the recession had hit the local economy. But matters certainly hadn't been helped by the recent spell of bad weather.

In addition, said Term, there was the problem of what she called the misplaced emphasis the official figures placed on the "brute fact" of employment.

"Here at Poppleton University we've always maintained that a degree is for life.

"So while it may be technically true that many of our former students are unemployed or indeed unemployable, thanks to their years at Poppleton they are all well equipped with an enhanced capacity to reflect meaningfully upon their collective plight."

Thought for the Week

(contributed by Jennifer Doubleday, Head of Personal Development)

Today's over-50s Get Fit For Your Holiday class will concentrate on opening and closing deckchairs. All welcome.

lolsoc@dircon.co.uk.

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