Laurie Taylor – 23 August 2018

Goodbye Poppleton. Memorial edition.

August 23, 2018

From the editor:

This is a sad day for myself and my entire editorial team – Keith Ponting (30).

Ever since Poppleton opened its doors, we’ve brought you all the latest news about how this great establishment has responded to the major changes in higher education.

We’ve assiduously chronicled the way in which pure disinterested research has been contaminated by the crass publishing demands of the research excellence framework and the manner in which the teaching excellence framework has pioneered the use of largely irrelevant metrics in such a way as to preserve the supremacy of the Russell Group universities.

We’ve found space to record our own vice-chancellor’s readiness to join his fellow principals at the trough of higher and higher emoluments. Neither have we neglected the exponential growth of our management team, the increasing reliance on short-term contracts for academics, the exploitation of graduate assistants and the gradual transformation of our university from a haven of relaxed teaching and scholarship into a frenzied marketplace of continuous and consequential assessment.

But now, as Poppleton finally folds away its ceremonial mace and makes way for the tourist delights of The Higher Education Experience, one thing remains: some last farewells from those former servants of the university who are even now seeking new pastures in which to peddle their distinctive skills.

Personal farewells

Professor Gordon Lapping, Media and Cultural Studies

I think it was Umberto Eco or possibly Raymond Williams or someone else entirely who once wrote about the ‘sense of an ending’. And that is very much my own sentiment as I now relinquish my proud academic past and assume control of the miniature train that will take visitors around the many delights of The Higher Education Experience. Don’t forget to give me a wave when you hear my cheery ‘toot-toot’.

Jennifer Doubleday, Personal Development

Today I close the door to my past, open the door to the future, take a deep breath, and step on through to start the next chapter in my life. (Jennifer is on jobseeker’s allowance.)

Ted Odgers, International Socialist

These are indeed sad times, but we must keep the faith and look forward to that glorious day when the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest.

Dr Piercemüller, c/o Carlton Hotel, Cannes

Although I’ve been on extended research leave for the past decade or so, I still have vivid memories of the times when I used to pop back to campus to pick up my mail and postpone a few dozen lectures and seminars. Even as this great institution finally expires and shuts its doors, I like to believe that its ancient corridors will still echo to the once-familiar cry, ‘Where the bleeding hell is Dr Piercemüller?’

Keith Ponting, Freelance journalist

My personal thanks to all those brave readers of this newsletter who have risked compulsory retirement by sending in accounts of the latest scandals affecting their institutions. Where would this column have been without you?

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