Fourth Degree by Laurie Taylor – 25 October 2018

All campus life is here

October 25, 2018
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On the breadline?

It would appear that a number of UK universities are about to appoint cut-price, bargain-basement vice‑chancellors.

In the past, top-quality university leaders such as Dame Glynis Breakwell (University of Bath: £468,000 remuneration package) and Sir Christopher Snowden (University of Southampton: £433,000) were no doubt attracted to the role by the size of their stipends.

But following high-level criticism of such remuneration packages, it is now expected that the vice-chancellors chosen to fill existing vacancies at Anglia Ruskin University, the University of Bradford, Goldsmiths, University of London, Liverpool John Moores University and Southampton will be required to rub along on little more than the sector average of £266,000.

One former vice-chancellor, who asked not to be named, regretted this development. “We are in grave danger of going back to the bad old days when a vice-chancellor’s pay was only 12 times that of the average lecturer, and the incumbent had to perform their complex leadership duties without access to such marginal comforts as a 30ft personal yacht, a grace-and-favour residence and a Bentley Continental.”


Bottoms up

Although there has been a general welcome in higher education circles to the news that one in five UK university students is now a non-drinker, concern has been expressed that members of academic staff may be taking up the alcoholic slack.

At one well-established north-western university, a snap breathalyser inspection of teaching staff revealed that more than 40 per cent were mildly intoxicated by midday and a further 32 per were well over the recommended safe lecturing limit long before teatime.

Those members of staff who successfully remained sober for most of their working day attributed their sobriety to a 12-step policy of ignoring managerial directives.


Letters to the Editor

Dear Sir or Madam,

I am currently listed in Who’s Who in Science and Technology and in Who’s Who in Academia but not in Who’s Who.

Who am I?

Name withheld

 

Dear Sir or Madam,

I wonder if any of your readers could advise me on how to resolve this ethical dilemma.

One of my former graduate students recently asked me to mail him a recommendation to accompany his application for the post of senior re-education officer in North Korea. Would it be appropriate to ask him to reimburse the postal charge?

Dr Mike Schopenhauer


Appointments vacant

Would you like to play a leading role in ensuring that some of the research carried out by your disciplinary colleagues is lacking in originality, significance and rigour? Then why not apply for a position on one of the subpanels for the 2021 research excellence framework.

You will join approximately 14 other academics on a panel that somehow or other will contrive to review the research quality of more than 700 submissions in not much more than a couple of months.

In quite a few cases, you will lack specific knowledge of the research area under review and will also have to make your own decisions about what constitutes such key nebulous REF concepts as “world-leading originality” and “highest standards of excellence”. As an added test of your judgemental qualities, you will also be expected to decide on the value of submissions without taking into account the reputation of the journals in which the research was originally published.

Preference will be given to candidates with a wide tolerance of ambiguity, an ability to pronounce knowledgeably on matters outside their expertise, and a general eagerness to earn upwards of £6,000 in emoluments and regular expenses-paid trips to London. 

Send your application to REF 2021. Mark the submission ‘Apparatchik’.


Staff Changes

Please note that as from midday on 26 October, Professor Douglas Crampton (phonetics) will be self-identifying as Professor Doreen Crampton. Doreen has asked Fourth Degree to stress that she will be fulfilling all her existing teaching, research and administrative functions, but using a different cloakroom.


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