Laurie Taylor – 9 March 2017

The official weekly newsletter of the University of Poppleton. Finem respice!

March 9, 2017
Moon made of cheese
Source: Alamy

A spoonful of money

“A brave stand for free speech.”

That was how Dr T. W. Trilling, our Head of Conference Bookings, described the decision by Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford to stage the Society of Homeopaths’ annual general meeting on 18 March.

“There are those”, said Dr Trilling, “who argue that Lady Margaret Hall is greatly damaging its reputation by allowing such scientific bunkum to be promoted within its walls.”

“However,” continued Dr Trilling, “most level-headed people will find considerable comfort in the knowledge that the current head of Lady Margaret Hall is Mr Alan Rusbridger, the former editor of The Guardian. If a man with such a formidable reputation for the promotion of liberal values is happy to accept a bag of cash from a bunch of quacks then there can really be no profound objection to our own university’s readiness to house the forthcoming AGM of the Green Cheese Lunar Society.”

Far right leaders
Alamy/iStock montage
In line for a Poppleton post?

Take a turn to the Right

Our university has already responded forcefully to the alarming report from the overwhelmingly right-wing Adam Smith Institute, which shows that academics in British universities are now overwhelmingly left-wing or liberal.

“In an ideal world,” declared our Head of Human Resources, Louise Bimpson, “we would simply hire in the requisite number of right-wing academics to correct such an imbalance. But in the interests of financial probity we have decided instead to appoint a small number of extremely conservative bigots in the confident expectation that their overall dogmatism and unreadiness to consider any other point of view will help to restore our great university to the complete political neutrality that should always be the hallmark of any institution devoted to intellectual enquiry.”

No turning back!

Our Head of Corporate Affairs, Jamie Targett, has heaped praise on universities minister Jo Johnson for the “courageous manner” in which he has recently spoken about the forthcoming teaching excellence framework.

“Let’s face it,” Targett told our reporter Keith Ponting (30), “there has been almost universal condemnation of the TEF. Critics find each one of its proposed metrics fatally flawed and regard its reliance upon written university submissions as opening the way to the type of game-playing that characterised the worst excesses of the research excellence framework. No wonder, then, that a major poll recently revealed that only 4 per cent of academics believe it will accurately assess teaching quality.

“Now, many government ministers might start backtracking in the face of such devastating criticism of one of their key policy proposals,” said Targett, “But that is not the Johnson way. Oh no. He has come out fighting with a series of statements that positively exude confidence in his proposed new measuring plan. We will, says Mr Johnson, now be staging ‘a trial year’ and this will be used as a ‘genuine lessons-based exercise’ and include a review of ‘the balance between metrics and provider submission’.

“There you have it,” Targett told Ponting. “Are those the weasel words of a man who has come up with a universally ridiculed scheme and is now seeking any old way in which to rescue what is left of his already dramatically declining reputation?”

Ponting thought they rather were.

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