A spoonful of sponsorship
“I simply can’t see the connection.”
That was how the Head of our Research Ethics Committee, Dr K. R. Placeman, responded to what he described as the “scurrilous online suggestion” that there might be “worrying affinities” between Loughborough University’s historic acceptance of £817,292 funding from the Coca-Cola organisation for research into nutrition and health, and our own university’s acceptance of £2 million in research grants from GATC plc (the Global Arsenic Trading Company).
Dr Placeman did agree that the final report of the Poppleton-based research team contained a number of “positive” references to the natural quality of arsenic and to its traditionally important role in the treatment of a range of disorders from acne to venereal disease. It was also true that the report had raised what Dr Placeman described as “a number of reservations” about the conventional link between the ingestion of arsenic and sudden cardiac arrest.
But, said Dr Placeman, the independence of the research was very much evident in the researchers’ final conclusion that “on the basis of current knowledge, we would not wish to advocate any general increase in the overall consumption of arsenic”.
Dr Placeman also insisted that there was little to be gained from raising any further questions about the research as the project was now completed and the building originally allocated to its team of researchers had been formally taken over by the £3 million Volkswagen-funded Research Centre on Vehicle Emissions.
Our Corporate Director of Human Resources, Louise Bimpson, has expressed her “profound sympathy” with the Quality Assurance Agency’s most recent attempt to find itself a job.
Ms Bimpson said she had noted that the QAA’s traditional inspection work was in danger of disappearing following the recent plans to abolish the cyclical institutional reviews that had done so much to establish its distinctively flawed reputation.
But now she admitted to being “deeply saddened” by the news that its interim chief executive, Douglas Blackstock, was endeavouring to climb aboard the new teaching excellence framework bandwagon by suggesting that the QAA could act as the independent peer review body that would ensure that this brand new assessment measure had credibility.
“This QAA offer”, said Ms Bimpson, “is offering to bestow extra credibility on an exercise that is currently regarded as lacking any credibility whatsoever.” It was, in effect, “offering the Emperor another invisible suit”.
But she detected “some minor hope” for the continued existence of the QAA in Mr Blackstock’s reminder that his organisation had “been here for 18 years”, although she felt the need to point out that longevity of academic service at Poppleton was rather more closely associated with involuntary redundancy than continuation in post.
Thought for the week
(contributed by Jennifer Doubleday, Head of Personal Development)
I’m delighted to announce that the Personal Development Centre will be following in the footsteps of the University of Leicester and setting up a number of “anti‑lad” workshops so as to strip out “inappropriately misogynistic behaviour” on campus. The first of these will be held next Monday evening at the usual time and will consider this university’s yobbish employment practices.