It’s true – Poppleton to close!
“First of all the bad news.”
That was how Jamie Targett, our Director of Corporate Affairs, began his address to the academic and administrative staff who attended yesterday’s mass meeting in Central Hall.
As an uneasy silence fell upon the assembled crowd, Targett outlined Poppleton’s predicament.
“Our progressive admissions policy of making unconditional offers to anyone who intimated the slightest interest in Poppleton has not had the desired effect. Indeed, our current shortfall means that most heads of department would be addressing their welcome speech this autumn to an average audience of just three students.
“As you’ll appreciate, the loss of income from this student shortfall compounds our inability to pay the interest charges on the massive loan that was raised to pay for the now totally unoccupied suite of new buildings known as the David Willetts campus.
“There have been other less material indications that Poppleton’s days are numbered. Some might mention last week’s sighting of a flock of vultures circling the Administration Block, or the recent plague of frogs prompted by the drying-out of the Biology Pond, or indeed the depressing sight this Tuesday afternoon of long lines of rats abandoning the Psychology Laboratory. All these signs, material and symbolic, point to only one outcome: the closure of this university.”
As anguished shouts of “Shame” and “Traitor” and “Sell-out” rang around the hall, Targett offered these words of comfort.
“Although this news means that we will have to say ‘goodbye and good luck’ to a sizeable proportion of our academic and administrative staff, I’m delighted to say that a plan is in place to turn this once-proud university into an exciting new venue. Let me leave the details to our next speaker, our Corporate Director of Human Resources, Louise Bimpson.”
But before Ms Bimpson was able to begin her address, stewards had to move in to stop a small group of disgruntled academics from attacking the platform party with a variety of improvised implements including a blackboard pointer and the university mace. When order was restored, Ms Bimpson rose to speak.
“This is indeed a sad day. But there is a silver lining. Poppleton University is about to rise again as an exciting new tourist experience.
“Let me explain. Many of you will have visited the National Coal Mining Museum in Wakefield. You will remember the excitement of getting kitted out with a hard hat and a battery lamp, stepping into a cage and descending 140 metres underground in order to discover the traditional realities of coal mining.
“But now, the Poppleton Higher Education Experience, as it will be known, gives visitors a once-in-a-lifetime chance to discover the realities of life in a traditional university. Visitors will be kitted out in traditional gowns and mortar boards with tassels and invited to observe a variety of old-time university sights: a six-person seminar group, an extended senior common room discussion, an academic enjoying a sabbatical term, a form-free desk. They will learn what a university was like before the teaching excellence framework and the research excellence framework, and before Sam Gyimah, the current universities minister, decided that it most resembled a supermarket. And there will be so much more. So many more attractions. But you will need to wait just one more week to hear that news.”
What is the new face of Poppleton University? What exactly is The Higher Education Experience? Next week we reveal the exciting details.