"Cuts! Bring them on." That was the defiant response of our thrusting Director of Corporate Affairs, Jamie Targett, to the swingeing reductions in university funding announced by Lord Mandelson.
In a dramatic illustration of how cuts could be managed without affecting the basic student experience, Targett proceeded to cut up a large pear with a kitchen knife. After top-slicing and bottom-slicing the pear, Targett held up the remains to the audience. "Think of this as the new student experience. It may be hard, unappetising and largely inedible, but it is still indisputably the core."
He hoped that this analogy would remind academics that now was the time to cut out many of the present "frills" of higher education such as intermittent personal supervision, modestly sized seminar groups, reasonably well-prepared lectures and relatively careful monitoring of student progress.
After taking questions, Targett distributed copies of the university's new student guide, Lowering Expectations.
Professor Gordon Lapping, the Head of our Department of Media and Cultural Studies, has described a new study of how heads of department come to take on their role as "fundamentally flawed".
According to research by Alan Floyd of Oxford Brookes University, department heads accepted their role after persuasion from their deans, or because they thought it would give them more say in their working environment, or because "it would allow them to make a difference in a way that related to their core values and individual identity".
Lapping told our reporter, Keith Ponting (30), that this omitted one critical factor. "I refer to HoDs who acquired their position after a procedure in which no one offered to do the job despite a long process of threats and bribes, a disputed selection system involving various lengths of straws, an inconclusive arm-wrestling contest and, finally, a unanimous vote at a departmental meeting in favour of the one person not present that day because of a life-threatening illness."
Doreen Tomelty, our Deputy Director of Advanced Technological Retrieval Services (formerly the Assistant Librarian), has welcomed the declaration by Sue McKnight, a senior librarian at Nottingham Trent University, that the new high-tech "ebrarians" of the future will "wow their customers".
Ms Tomelty told The Poppletonian that the "wow" factor was already well established at this university. "Every day we have students coming into the library and going, 'Wow, all this space and so few books', or 'Wow, all this promised access to online sources and only eight workstations', or 'Wow, not one of the set books on my course is actually in stock', or 'Wow, whatever happened to all those literate, low-tech, helpful librarians?"
THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK
(contributed by Jennifer Doubleday, Head of Personal Development)
"Two men look out through the same bars; one sees the mud and the other one the stars." (Obviously, this could apply equally well to two women.)