Laurie Taylor

March 7, 2013

Back to the grindstone

“We’ve nothing whatsoever to be ashamed of in Media and Cultural Studies.”

That was the forthright response of departmental head Professor Gordon Lapping to the revelation that postgraduate teachers in his department were among the 30 per cent of such teachers who, according to a National Union of Students survey, are paid below the national minimum wage of £6.19 an hour.

“The truth of the matter”, he told our reporter Keith Ponting (30), “is that our departmental postgraduate teachers have had no formal training whatsoever. Neither have they ever received any advice from academic staff, had any feedback from their module lecturers, taken part in any meaningful discussion about course content, or enjoyed any representation at all on the departmental board. And in addition they’ve been required to either teach or lose their bursaries, and to do so without ever having any sort of formal contract.

“Quite honestly,” he concluded, “it’s something of a shock to learn that such a bottom-of-the range, jobbing, downtrodden, ill-informed set of people are earning anything at all, let alone the equivalent for a full hour’s work of a pint and a half of lager.”

The Dewey Dewey fog

There was confusion on campus last week over the eligibility of our library team for the 2013 Times Higher Education Leadership and Management Awards.

Although “Outstanding Library Team” is an award category, several campus figures have expressed concern that our entry in the name of Doreen Tomelty might risk disqualification because Ms Tomelty (formerly Assistant Librarian, now Director of Advanced Technological Retrieval Systems) works solo.

Ms Tomelty herself claims that the criticism is informed by “a pedantic interpretation of ‘team’”. And Jamie Targett, our thrusting Director of Corporate Affairs, agrees. “It’s certainly true”, he told The Poppletonian, “that exigencies of scale going forward have left Ms Tomelty on the shelf in terms of staffing levels.” But he did not see this as an issue. “Indeed,” he added, “Ms Tomelty might well be living proof of the well-known management adage: there’s only one ‘me’ in ‘team’.”

Closer my quad to thee

How might we increase the links between Poppleton University and the neighbouring communities of Upper, Lower and Greater Poppleton?

It’s a question that preoccupies the fertile mind of Kirk Swavely, our Senior Manager of External Relations. “Frankly, I’m always looking for new ideas,” he told our reporter Keith Ponting (30).

This week Mr Swavely gave a big “thumbs up” to Nottingham Trent University, which recently opened two driving test centres on its campus. According to Michael Lees, head of customer services at Nottingham Trent, this development will “increase links with the community” by allowing learner drivers to “take their tests from our campus”.

Mr Swavely not only endorses the driving test initiative but also claims to have pioneered this type of approach in his own outreach programmes. As he proudly said: “In the past six months our campus has not only become home to Upper Poppleton’s leading firm of funeral directors (‘Make your last journey from our campus’) but has also opened its doors to the Lower Poppleton-based Magic Fingers Massage Parlour (‘Leave our campus with real relief’).”

Thought for the week

(contributed by Jennifer Doubleday, Head of Personal Development)

“I very much regret the cancellation of our special Mother’s Day course on Oedipal Conflict Resolution. This was due to severe cutbacks.”

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