Laurie Taylor

August 8, 2013

When the digging stopped

“A Eureka moment.” That was how our professor of archaeology, Mortimer Wheelbarrow, described the result of his latest dig at a site in the East Midlands area.

In an article in the peer-reviewed British Journal of Material Remains, Professor Wheelbarrow admits that he initially had small hopes for the excavation. The area under survey appeared to be little more than a midden (the archaeological term for a trash disposal area).

This pessimistic view was confirmed when analysis showed that the top layer was composed almost entirely of several thousand compacted PR handouts and press releases. As members of his team dug deeper they unearthed a mass of T-shirts, badges, mugs and souvenir postcards. Further down still they uncovered a largely intact website and two extant television documentaries.

And there, at last, underneath what Professor Wheelbarrow technically describes as “a stratum of thick hype” lay the key discovery – the last remnants of what had once been one of the glories of the region, the one-time university of the year: Leicester.

Here today - gone tomorrow

Dame Elsie Waters, the principal of Poppleton’s leading private for-profit provider of higher education, The Lower Poppleton College of Law, Accountancy and Exotic Dancing, has reacted vigorously to recent criticism of the private education sector.

She told our reporter Keith Ponting (30) that she had “scrutinised” the recent study carried out by independent research firm CFE for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and had noted its conclusion that almost two-thirds of UK private providers do not know how many of their alumni land graduate-level jobs.

However, she insisted that the report was fundamentally undermined by its failure to recognise that the private sector was “front-loaded”. “Most higher education institutions”, she said, “accept almost anyone with a single A and a couple of Bs at A level. We’re far more rigorous in the private sector. Only those students with a triple A credit rating and a viable Visa card are even considered for admission.”

She described Ponting’s suggestion that her institution’s interest in students lasted only as long as their fees held out as “a grave misunderstanding of the core values that motivate those who regard making money out of higher education as a public good”.

Unaccustomed as I am

Following hot on the heels of an article in Times Higher Education by an anonymous “freelance ghostwriter” who revealed that “in recent months” he had written “thousands of words of coursework for more universities than I can remember”, comes a disturbing rumour about one of our leading academics.

According to an anonymous blog on the university website, Professor Gordon Lapping of Media and Cultural Studies is suspected of having bought fully prepared undergraduate lectures on Structuralism and Semiology from Dons ’R’ Us, an agency specialising in “Taking the Ache out of Academia”.

It appears that an undergraduate student became suspicious after attending a lecture in which Professor Lapping repeatedly sounded the final ‘T’ in Foucault, referred to Roland Barthes as “Roman Baths” and concluded his presentation with the phrase, “I confirm that this lecture represents entirely my own work.”

Professor Lapping was unavailable for comment, but his departmental secretary, Maureen, told The Poppletonian that the extremely poor ratings Lapping consistently received for his lectures strongly suggested that “they were all his own work”.

Thought for the week

(contributed by Jennifer Doubleday, Head of Personal Development)

Jennifer is currently “taking the waters” – although no one seems to quite know where.

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