Laurie Taylor

September 25, 2014

Might your vice-chancellor be next to go?Man sitting on a bed

In view of the mounting concern about the number of vice-chancellors leaving their posts – vacancies currently exist at Durham, Southampton, Buckingham, Bristol and The Open UniversityThe Poppletonian has commissioned a special piece of research that may allow staff at other universities to detect the telltale physical and psychological signs of impending departure in their own chief executives. Here are some of the key diagnostic indications:

1. Hydropsy of the Emolument
This condition, which is endemic among current vice-chancellors, is precipitated by the repetitive examination of one’s own monthly payslip. Contemplation of the gross figures can also induce feelings of vertigo and bouts of hysterical laughter. There is no known remedy.

2. Inflammation of the Rhetoric
This unfortunate state is precipitated by the grossly inflated and extensive recourse to such phrases as “cutting edge”, “ground­breaking”, “innovative”, “highly respected”, “inter­nationally recog­nised” and
“state of the art infrastructure”. There is no certain cure for this condition apart from laryn­gectomy or the surgical removal of the sufferer’s rose-tinted spectacles.

3. Constriction of the Athenaeum
Upon their appointment, all new vice-chancellors expect to join the elite group of vice-chancellors who occupy the comfortable if elderly chairs in the Athenaeum Club. The discovery that these chairs are strictly reserved for vice-chancellors from the Russell Group can induce a range of symptoms that include “red-brick depression”, “plate-glass anomie” and “former polytechnic angst”. (Membership of the RAC Club has occasionally been shown to have a placebo effect.)

Numbing numbers

268 The number of days that Thomas Docherty, the University of Warwick’s professor of English and comparative literature, has been banned from the campus
268 The number of days that have passed without the University of Warwick providing any public account of the reasons for the ban
5 The number of days since The Times and The Sunday Times announced that their choice as University of the Year was Warwick.

University of Poppleton
BA Honours
Practical Philosophy

Q1. Logically reconcile the following denials:
David Willetts denies that changing estimates of the amount of loans that students are likely to repay is in any way indicative of a “deep defect in the system”.
B. Nick Hillman, who advised David Willetts during his time as universities minister, asserts that there is no denying that “the government has got it wrong and therefore there is a big funding gap and something has to be done about it”.
Time allowed. Indefinite.

Thought for the week

(contributed by Jennifer Doubleday, Head of Personal Development)

“The next seminar in our Times Higher Education survey inspired series on work-life balance will consider the extent to which serious imbalances between home and office might be remedied by having sex at work.”


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