Owing to what can only be described as a ‘major administrative error’, my department has slipped by over 30 places in the UK’s research rankings.
Even despite all of my RAE TACTICS described in my previous post, it appears there have been some serious failures that I can only put down to poor administration of the RAE in my institution.
In a sharp phonecall at 2.35am this morning, my beloved Pro-Vice Chancellor advised me that ‘Maybe it is time you moved on’. She also said that she would write me a glowing reference.
Upon further investigation, it appears that there were some serious errors carried out by the student that we hired to manage, implement and write the RAE strategy and submission for my department. Despite the fact that I paid him £6.22 per hour, which in my opinion is well above the going rate, the student had failed to submit the best of our research. Instead he went for the work where, in his words, ‘the words were easier to spell’.
Anyway, as a result of this incompetence of the student, I am now actively seeking employment. Even more disappointing is that I have been informed that I will not be receiving my £20 Marks and Spencer Christmas bonus, which i was going to spend on my gran. She is the real loser in all of this, I hope you are happy student!
It’s been seven years since the last one, and finally all of the promises that I made to the department to improve the research culture are going to come to fruition. Understandably, I’m shitting myself.
I am hopeful, however, that a number of my departmental structural changes will have a dramatic impact on our results. I’d like to share a few of these with you:
I believe that my most major accomplishment was to encourage staff to work with students to produce world leading research. This includes allowing staff to ‘rebrand’ student essays with their own name and submitting to journals and conferences. This was made much easier by the fact that students now submit their essays electronically, meaning that doing this only requires a very basic understanding of microsoft word (for which we provided training courses).
The second of my initiatives was to allow staff more time to write up the research that they tell me they’ve been doing for the last seven years, even though i have not seen a single sentence worth of work from most of them. In order to facilitate this, we cancelled lectures number of weeks (52 in total in 2006/07) and encouraged students to be self learners.
Thirdly, we completely reworked the way that we use our PhD students as a resource. Not only did they teach well over 99% of our course content from 2003-2008, but we also set them targets for research income and outputs. This meant that our staff had much more time to work on their research areas. Although we only have 6 PhD students in the department (of 22 staff), we successfully increased the research outputs from 1 in the last RAE to 1276 potentials for this one. Unfortunately, however, 5 of these research students suffered from fatal heart attacks, meaning they are no longer with us. Luckily a loophole in the RAE guidelines means we can still submit their work post-humously.
The fourth innovation was to submit all of this world leading work through a single academic for the department (me), declaring all of the others as ‘non-research active’. This will mean that 100% of our staff are likely to receive the prestigious 4* rating.
My final strategy was to pick an area where the research we could produce would stand out from the crowd. We decided to go for research related to the colour of ‘smarties’ (partly inspired by an experiment I did at school once). Our focus enabled the research to not only be original, but world leading in the approach that it brought to ‘sweetie colour theory’, including a number of highly original social and cultural approaches to the topic. This research also had a wider public impact when Nestle announced in 2008 that they were bringing back the controversial ‘blue one’; once again proving the importance of higher education for the general public.
So all in all I’m hopeful that my changes will have a strong impact on the department. Should it fail, I have been offered an interesting sounding job as a ‘Production Operative’ in the Nestle factory in York.
“Degrees aren’t worth what they used to be?”. I hear you cry…
You have to question all the palaver about lowering standards in universities in the UK. I for one disagree strongly that this is the case.
Nearly all my students in the last academic year graduated with a First or a high 2:1. I haven’t failed anyone in the past 11 years due to exceptional ‘departmental regulations’. I take this as conclusive evidence that, if anything, standards are going up.
I recently took a mock GCSE paper on my subject area and only just managed to scrape a D, even though I passed the O-Level with a top grade nearly thirty years ago. Ironically, I’m the one lecturing these clever scamps, how embarassed I feel. Luckily I have a doctorate that I gained when standards weren’t so sky high.
So my praise goes out to all our bright young minds who will be a great asset to our knowledge economy in the years to come. They are clearly going to be the greatest generation of consumer nourishment managers (burger flippers) and stock replenishment executives (shelf stackers) that our nation has ever had.
I gave a student £50 and 3 weeks off lectures to make this video to put on my new youtube channel. Honestly, it was like getting blood out of a stone or like getting a coffee budget out of the dean. I was nearly at the point of beating the little blighter silly, but instead I offered to give him a guaranteed 2.1 on his latest essay. Little does he realise I’ll be marking his next one with extra vigilence.
Anyway, here’s the video:
The more I think about it, the more I realise that the fake university in the Times Higher Education Supplement is actually more real than we think. Poppleton University recently celebrated its 30th Birthday and congratulations to it.
With their constant harassment of the Corporate Affairs Department, and the constant bickering and crap ideas coming from the senior management team, it couldn’t be a more realistic account of life in a University today. So here’s a link above to some of the tittering that i have to put up with in my everyday life.
I was surprised not to see them win any gongs in this years Times Higher Education Awards, especially as the THE publishes their newsletter. I have no doubt that they are the most creative, innovating, resourceful and professional university on the planet. So thank you Poppleton, and if there are any dons jobs going please keep me in the loop. My CV is updated as ever.
my university loves talking about strategy. strategy this, strategy that: what’s the strategy for getting overworked academics to do more research and teaching and admin? what’s the plan of action for getting students to put nice answers in the satisfaction survey? what’s the vision for cleaning this toilet?
my strategy has always been simple. I strategically do not listen to this management nonsense and i strategically avoid the strategy people and the plethora of useless meetings that they happen to try and get me to every minute of the day. perhaps a good strategy would be to get rid of these lowlifes who quite clearly have come to education cos they can’t do anything else.
i’m off work sick today and i’m bored. It’s mostly a cold but a hell of a lot of it is stress. It’s kind of a strategic day off as i was meant to sort out some shit today, no doubt the work will not be done when i get back. Perhaps it’s a strategic sick day cos I’m sick of strategy.
Maybe strategy isn’t such a bad thing
There’s a number of things that make me excited about higher education in the UK. I think it has the potential to do a lot of things including creating prospects for the young and old, contributing to the economy, contributing to our wider understanding of things in the world, helping to overcome social and scientific problems in society and beyond
Unfortunately, i believe, it does very little of this. Yes, it makes sure our leaders produce offspring that will be the leaders of tomorrow, it continues to contribute to social immobility by cutting off the poorest and it wastes a hell of a lot of taxpayers money in the process. Coupled with the fact that our students are more like customers than ever this has made me become quite angry about what I actually do and this isn’t healthy for anyone.
As I write this I am taking a day off sick from the stress of it all. As academic freedom no longer enables me to voice these concerns and opinions among my own institution, i’ve decided to do this publicly here for all to see. I am recording my angry moments here as a therapy to myself to hopefully make me feel better about all this.