Laurie Taylor

April 11, 2013

The alternative voice

Radical academic Ted Odgers, of our Department of Media and Cultural Studies, has declared himself “not at all surprised” by new research carried out by Michelle Addison, a Newcastle University PhD student, that reveals that many academics at Russell Group institutions adopt false voices to disguise their real accents.

Mr Odgers writes in his blog that “speaking in a bogus voice is actually the defining characteristic of the Russell Group”. “In recent years,” he continues, “they’ve feathered their own nests while pretending to speak on behalf of the whole university sector. They’ve mouthed approval of ‘fair access’ even though a new analysis by Jonathan Hughes and Marion Bowl shows that they are talking with forked tongues because of their continued attempts to ‘differentiate themselves on the basis of their elite status’. They’ve used weasel words to persuade Michael Gove to reward top achievers at state schools with a visit to one of their universities and completed an amazing linguistic U-turn by initially welcoming the AAB admissions policy and then slagging it off when it failed to deliver enough students to their own institutions. But their outstanding ability to speak in voices other than their own is most conclusively demonstrated by their extraordinary capacity to ventriloquise the sentiments of David Willetts without apparently moving their lips.”

In a brief statement, our vice-chancellor described Mr Odgers’ diatribe as “profoundly misleading”. He himself was proud to be personally acquainted with several members of the Russell Group and could vouch for “their genuine poshness”.

‘Something to eat with that?’

Arguments about whether universities should place “employability at the heart of the student experience” have escalated after the announcement of a new Poppleton undergraduate course with an apparent emphasis on future job prospects.

However, Janet Fluellen, our Director of Curriculum Development, has hotly denied that the new degree - BA (Hons) Barista Training - neglects the traditional university emphasis on knowledge for its own sake.

It was true, Ms Fluellen told our reporter Keith Ponting (30), that one or two courses did have “a practical nuance”. These included Introduction to Foaming, Basic Tamping Techniques, Setting the Grinder and Using the Chocolate Sprinkler.

But she instanced two third-year courses - The Science behind Your Milk and Mastering the Viennoiserie - as examples of options with “a relatively high theoretical component”.

She also flatly denied “the scurrilous rumour” that the final degree classification would be determined by the number of stamps students accumulated on their loyalty cards.

Realigning priorities

“We must rise to the challenge!”

That was how Graham Flair, our Head of Marketing, responded to the recent declaration by Tom Green, a managing consultant at the for-profit consultancy wing of the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers, that UK universities were “pretty bad at marketing”.

Mr Flair told The Poppletonian that Mr Green’s further revelation that not-for-profit universities in the UK spent only between 1 and 2 per cent of their income on marketing while for-profit institutions in the US used up to a quarter of their total expenditure on promotion, was “a wake-up call”.

“We can only truly succeed in the brave new world of higher education,” continued Mr Flair, “if we realign our priorities so that a large proportion of the money we at present spend on enhancing the student experience is reallocated to promotional campaigns that stress our commitment to enhancing the student experience.”

Thought for the week

(contributed by Jennifer Doubleday, Head of Personal Development)

Jennifer Doubleday is taking the waters.

lolsoc@dircon.co.uk

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