We have been asked to remind all academic staff who intend to participate in the forthcoming national strike that they should attend the following “strike workshops”:
February 15: Brazier Practice
A brief introduction to the art of lighting a brazier and a guide to the manner in which serving pickets should cluster around the burning coals. (NB For reasons of safety and presentation, those selected for brazier work are advised to eschew formal academic dress.)
February 21: Chanting Rehearsal
At this workshop, all attendees will be rehearsed in the chants that have been approved for use during all day-of-action demonstrations.
As we go to press, the favoured chants are as follows:
What do we want?
Full pension rights restored!
When do want them?
Now! Now! Now!
Defined benefit pensions
In! In! In!
Market-leading defined contribution pensions
Out! Out! Out!
It's a private affair!
In an exclusive interview with our reporter, Keith Ponting (30), a leading provider of for-profit higher education has leaped to the defence of her fellow providers.
According to Mrs Bartlett, vice-chancellor of the Poppleton Institute of Dance and Drama, the “politics of envy is only too apparent” in the criticism aimed at the for-profit University of Law director who was paid an overall remuneration of £802,000 for his services in 2015-16.
But, wondered Ponting, wasn’t such criticism partly prompted by the news that the present government had totally failed to record how many students were dropping out from courses run by such private providers as the University of Law while simultaneously allowing these very providers to acquire £400 million every year from the student loans system?
Mrs Bartlett explained that the principle of not knowing what was going on in the private sector lay at the heart of contemporary government practice but described Ponting’s murmured reference to “the Carillion disaster” as “deeply irrelevant”.
(In a shock move, Mrs Bartlett demonstrated her commitment to the terpsichorean art by conducting this entire interview while standing on her head.)
The sense of an ending
According to a recent Times Higher Education article by Terri Apter, a retired fellow of Newnham College, Cambridge, scholars are notably reluctant to praise each other. The writer refers to hearing a retired professor bemoan the current etiquette of thanking a speaker for a “fascinating” or “wonderful” talk on the grounds that such praise “diluted the intellectual atmosphere”.
However, according to Ted Odgers, of our Department of Media and Cultural Studies, this observation fails to suggest alternative ways in which anyone chairing such an academic talk might choose to indicate that the speaker had concluded their presentation. In what Odgers described as “a contribution to thickening the intellectual atmosphere”, he offered the following suggestions:
“There we are then. Somebody else’s turn to speak. Thought we’d never make it.”
“Now then, who’d like to kick off the criticism? One at a time, please.”
“I think we can all agree that our speaker now needs to catch an early train.”