Laurie Taylor

August 15, 2013

‘Zero here’ contract scandal

“I couldn’t even tell you the way to Poppleton. Is it in the North somewhere?”

That was the startling admission made by one of our university’s latest research appointments. But according to our reporter Keith Ponting (30), very similar sentiments have been expressed by many of the 1 senior research academics recently employed by this university solely for the purpose of boosting Poppleton’s research excellence framework return.

To satisfy REF requirements, all such appointees are employed on at least a fifth of full-time basis (the so-called Cardiff University Formula), and all of them, according to Ponting, have signed up to a notorious “Zero Here” contract, which specifies that they are expected to stay well away from Poppleton.

They have no teaching or administrative duties. No rooms have been set aside for their occupancy, and their names are rarely listed in the prospectus. They are, in Ponting’s evocative term, “Nowhere People”.

However, Brian Bryan, our Deputy Head of REF Strategy, said that the university should be congratulated on the progress it was making in rigging the REF. It was quite untrue to say that these here-today-gone-tomorrow academics lacked any real connection with Poppleton when the university logo was printed so very clearly across the top of their large monthly cheques.

Getting it in the neck

“You have to exploit your local assets.”

That was how Nathan Prest, our Head of Student Recruitment, defended himself and his team from charges of “exploitation” after our university’s decision to raise its national and international profile by associating itself in its publicity with the notorious Middle Poppleton Strangler.

Prest pointed out that nobody had raised any concerns whatsoever when Staffordshire University decided to associate itself with Stoke City, a football team that last won a trophy back in 1972, but there was “a veritable outcry” when Poppleton chose to stress its link with someone who had entered the record books as “a world-class throttler”.

However, Mr Prest agreed that he and his team would review some of the branding that features the Strangler motif. He would pay particular attention to the recruitment T-shirt bearing the invitational logo “Grab Your Chance by the Throat”.

Try again. Fail again. Fail better

Beckett University sign in front of wasteland

One of our leading literary scholars, Dr F. R. Beavis of English and Related Studies, has warmly welcomed the news that Leeds Metropolitan University has applied to the Privy Council for permission to change its name to Leeds Beckett University.

Dr Beavis said that the university’s decision to associate itself publicly with “a bleak nihilist” was a commendable recognition of the current state of higher education in this country.

He hoped that the university’s “bravery” might extend to the choice of a Beckettian logo. His personal choice, which he emphasised was “no more than a suggestion”, would be: “When you’re in the shit up to your neck, there’s nothing left to do but sing.”

Thought for the week

(contributed by Jennifer Doubleday, Head of Personal Development)

Jennifer is currently on a voyage of self-discovery. She will return to the university just as soon as she finds herself.

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