The THES Diary

May 28, 1999

Light relief from v-c

Liverpool John Moores University vice-chancellor Peter Toyne certainly knows how to soften the blow of bad news. Announcing Pounds 7.5 million of cuts to the university budget over three years, the vice-chancellor revealed some amusing personal secrets. At home with a back problem, Professor Toyne said he had been watching daytime television, "and I'm wondering whether any of the daytime TV 'gurus' might have any ideas about solving our budget and pay problems - after all they seem to pontificate on practically everything else". Professor Toyne also came up with another idea: "On the other hand, there's racing from York on this afternoon - and I'm wondering whether to ring the bursar and ask him to put some HEFCE money on 'College Dean', a 100-1 outsider."

Statistics don't lie

If you think staff turnover in further education is surprisingly high, the Further Education Funding Council agrees with you. Michael Stock, chief statistician, has just written to lecturers' union Natfhe in response to a request for data on staff leaving and starting dates. The FEFC will not release the data it has, says Stock, because it is "not credible and suggest(s) a turnover rate for the sector that is very much higher than we would expect".

Poppleton protest

Lecturers' union leaders came close to losing touch with reality this week, as they blitzed the local press with news of their pay protests. One Association of University Teachers branch in the north of England, forgetting to amend a model press release issued by the AUT's London HQ, alerted newspapers to protest action at "The University of Poppleton".

Yo-yo/fo-fo pedagogy

Natfhe has come up with a new set of acronyms to describe the worsening lecturer-student experience. Addressing the Association of University Teachers one-day strike rally in London on Tuesday, Natfhe general secretary Paul Mackney joked that lecturers were operating a "yo-yo" and "fo-fo" pedagogy. Mr Mackney explained that students with queries were told "You're On Your Own" and if they persisted the response was "F-off and Find Out". Unfortunately, said Mr Mackney, that also tended to be the attitude of government to lecturers' pay claims.

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