Obama enrols on OU course and other foolish fables

Sarah Cunnane offers a round-up of the mischievous stories circulating around the higher education sector on 1 April

April 1, 2009

From news of a new honours degree in “cow tipping”, to the shock revelation that US President Barack Obama was to enrol on an Open University course, the higher education community had a mischievous April Fool’s day.

Among a number of announcements that caused some confusion this morning was a statement from the Royal Agricultural College saying it was launching a BSc (Hons) in cow tipping. The course, said to be created by long-serving RAC staff member Dr Pasteur Ised, would require a Universities and Colleges Admissions Service score of “five cows tipped an hour or more”, and promised to lead to a career as a professional cow tipper, cow rotation specialist, lecturer, or researcher and consultant. See: www.rac.ac.uk/?_id=42

Staff at The Open University’s faculty of social sciences received an email from a senior administrator this morning advising them that before “midday, today, April 1”, Barack Obama would be visiting campus to sign on to the OU course “You and your money”.

Staff were advised that this would be followed by a “special panel debate” featuring Angela Merkel, Nicolas Sarkozy and Sir Fred Goodwin entitled “Anglo Saxon economics, where’s the money gone?”

Leeds Metropolitan University claimed that one of its academics made the “sports innovation of the century” – a square-shaped rugby ball that “could transform your granny into Jonny Wilkinson if she kicked it”. See: www.leedsmet.ac.uk/news/index_rugby_ball_010409.htm

King’s College London announced plans to join the annual Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race. King’s claimed that the universities of Oxford and Cambridge had been rowing on its river, and said it intended to challenge Oxbridge from next year onwards. Its announcement included a quote from “well-known King’s sporting coach”, Reggie D. Lyon. See: www.kcl.ac.uk/news/news_details.php?news_id=1044&year=2009

Times Higher Education can also reveal, for the minority who appear to have been taken in, that the magazine’s online story today, "Twitter feedback to help Government rate universities", is indeed a spoof.

As one online poster, “Peter”, said: “The story was fun. The responses of people who took it seriously were funnier. I suggest that we combine performance-related pay with teaching quality assessment. We would do this by simply having a busker’s tin in front of every lectern. If the students liked what you taught then they coughed up some money.”

Post your favourite April Fool’s stories below.

sarah.cunnane@tsleducation.com

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