Laurie Taylor – 4 January 2018

The official weekly newsletter of the University of Poppleton. Finem respice!

January 4, 2018
Vice-chancellor on throne
Source: Getty/Alamy montage

A New Year’s Message from our Vice-Chancellor

Happy New Year to everyone who helped to make 2017 such a successful year.

Pride of place must go to those talented creative writers who followed the sound advice of Diana Beech, the Higher Education Policy Institute’s director of policy, and contrived to include enough “buzzwords” in our teaching excellence framework submission to ensure that we achieved gold status.

There was inevitably something of a downside to this success as a large number of the teaching staff who served us so well in the TEF have now been required to find other employment in case their devotion to teaching has ensured that their research is not up to the standard demanded by the next research excellence framework (Mrs Dilworth – perhaps add in something here about swings and roundabouts).

But let us hope that the pains of unemployment will be lessened for those who during their time at Poppleton were exposed to our Mindfulness courses. Learning how to hold a raisin in your fingers, feel its texture and inhale its scent can be a powerful way of fending off thoughts of self-immolation.

While we are on the subject of resignations, I should also mention that with great reluctance we have revoked the honorary degrees awarded to the eight distinguished members of the acting profession who were recently indicted for “inappropriate touching”.

There has, of course, been the unfortunate ongoing controversy surrounding my annual emolument. I understand that a graduate teaching assistant on our maximum of £12 an hour might regard my annual salary of £422,000 as on the uppish side and might feel further aggrieved by the news that alongside such other vice-chancellors as Sir David Eastwood (Birmingham) I am able to top up my salary with the £90,000 a year I earn as a director of the USS pension scheme.

But we can all find comfort in the announcement by Nick Petford, vice-chancellor of the University of Northampton, that this controversy will soon “blow over” and in the further news that my present emoluments pale into insignificance when compared with the salaries enjoyed by such other leading administrators as King Midas, the former head of Phrygia, Croesus, the former head of Lydia, and Dame Glynis Breakwell, the former head of Bath.

On a broader front, we can give a warm Poppleton welcome to the brand-new Office for Students, which promises to provide just the type of top-down control of higher education that has been so lacking in recent years (one particularly welcomes the OfS’ ability to hand out fines of millions of pounds to universities that disobey its edicts).

Much of the credit for such initiatives must go to Jo Johnson, the minister for universities, who has recently done so much to distract attention from his politically inept decisions to abolish maintenance grants and to further raise tuition fees by banging on about the iniquities of “no-platforming”.

So, let us go forward into 2018 with our heads held high and our best feet forward. Let us finally dispense with all those old-fashioned ideas of a university as an institution that aims to raise the intellectual tone of society (Mrs Dilworth – I think this comes from someone called Newman. Please check) and recognise that the only way in which we can all learn to live with the wonderful new marketised world of higher education is through a collective act of amnesia. (Mrs Dilworth – please check spelling of “amnesia”.)

The Vice-Chancellor (signed 
in his absence by Mrs Dilworth).

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