Pull the other one!
“One only hopes it doesn’t prompt an outbreak of bad dentistry jokes.”
That was the reaction of Poppleton’s own Head of Dentistry, Professor Phil McCavity, to the news that BPP University, which is owned by a for-profit private equity group, had shut down a dentistry course after it failed to meet General Dental Council standards.
Professor McCavity told The Poppletonian that he had already encountered one report of the closure that was headlined “Painful cavity as BPP pulls course”.
Such glib recourse to puns threatened to obscure the emotional issues raised by the closure. “It’s important to remember”, said Professor McCavity, “that dentists also have fillings.”
He hoped that the BPP tutors would not feel too down in the mouth about the closure and would brace themselves for the challenges that lay ahead.
A spokesperson for BPP said that he was “bewildered” by the sudden closure. “As a for-profit provider, we’ve been happily making successful extractions from public funds for many years.”
(On other pages: Buddhism and Dentistry: how a belief in a higher power might allow one to transcend dental medication.)
A golden shower?
In last week’s Poppletonian, our Head of Statistics, Professor J. W. Oswald, considered the failure of the teaching excellence framework to correlate with any other method of measuring teaching quality and concluded that the TEF represented a metrical first: a measure that measured nothing whatsoever.
However, universities such as Poppleton that achieved gold in the TEF could still derive some comfort from the knowledge that they would be rewarded by being allowed to raise their undergraduate fees in line with inflation.
It now appears that the government will impose a freeze upon fees in English universities and that therefore TEF winners will not receive any such reward for their endeavours.
Professor Oswald described this development as logically sound. “Speaking statistically, it is only appropriate that a largely meaningless metric should have a completely pointless outcome.”
More chance to gain an ‘ology’
That was the surprise declaration from Janet Fluellen, our Director of Curriculum Development, as she unveiled plans for six new degree courses: organisational sociology, industrial sociology, educational sociology, feminist sociology, urban sociology, and the sociology of sociology. These new courses, she confirmed, would replace the present undergraduate degrees in physics, engineering and chemistry.
Ms Fluellen admitted that in the past, curriculum managers had rather frowned on sociology because of its predilection for meaningless jargon and its unrivalled capacity for prompting students to occupy the administration block.
She insisted, however, that her present decision had nothing to do with the recent news that the cost of teaching a sociology student was now below £5,000, which, roughly speaking, gave the university a net profit of £4,250 for every student taking the course.
“Obviously, we must apply financial rigour to our courses in such a manner as to secure management salaries and the vice-chancellor’s substantial Breakwell, but by far the most important consideration in these difficult times is the need to support a subject that is so centrally concerned with, erm, these difficult times.”
Our current professor of sociology, David Giddings, described Ms Fluellen’s decision as “a welcome epistemological recognition of sociology’s ongoing ontological imperative”.