“An exciting new opportunity!” That was how one of our leading brazier stokers, Mr Ted Odgers of the Department of Media and Cultural Studies, reacted to the news that staff at the Open University had overwhelmingly supported a motion declaring “no confidence” in their vice-chancellor.
“For many years,” Mr Odgers told The Poppletonian, “academics on this campus have wondered how they might address the sheer ineptitude of their very own vice-chancellor. A variety of strategies have been considered. But many of these, including a proposal to disable the brakes on his chauffeured Mercedes and smuggle noxious chemicals into his private drinks cupboard, have been voted down because of their dubious legality. But now, hey presto, the staff at the OU have shown us the way ahead. We simply assemble everyone and vote overwhelmingly in favour of a no-confidence motion.”
However, Jamie Targett, our Director of Corporate Affairs, has issued the following warning about the conceptual problems of following in the steps of the OU.
“Any vote of no confidence in a serving vice-chancellor necessarily presupposes that having confidence in one’s vice-chancellor is the natural state of affairs in modern British universities. But even the most cursory examination of our own vice-chancellor’s record in office shows that he has never regarded the enjoyment of staff confidence as part of his job description. In these circumstances, a vote of no confidence in his leadership would be as inappropriate as expressing a lack of confidence in Sir Philip Green’s management of BHS.”
They shall not pass
“Hats off to the Russell Group admissions tutors.”
That was the somewhat unexpected reaction of Nathan Prest, our Head of Student Recruitment, to the research finding that universities in the Russell Group had once again contrived to admit a disproportionate number of undergraduate students from advantaged areas of the country.
Prest explained that he’d been moved to comment because of his recognition of the strain that maintaining such a record of inequality must place upon these admissions tutors. “Just think of the battles they face. Not only do they have to ignore ministerial injunctions to admit more disadvantaged students, but they must also disregard the millions of public money invested in improved access and completely overlook all those research findings that show that students from disadvantaged areas outperform their more privileged fellows in final examinations.
“But despite all these pressures, their commitment to inequality has been so consistent that a new report from the Higher Education Policy Institute reveals that student intake at such Russell Group universities as Oxford, Cambridge and Bristol is currently as ‘unbalanced as income inequality in some of the world’s poorest countries’. Now, that’s quite an achievement.”
Was this the full extent of his admiration for the Russell Group admissions procedures?
“Not quite. Even when faced by this crystal-clear evidence of persistent discrimination, the Russell Group still feels able to put up a spokeswoman who ignores the findings and declares – with what one likes to imagine was a twinkle in her eye – ‘Russell Group members are fully committed to encouraging students from disadvantaged students to enter higher education’. Magnificent!”