Snakes and league tables

Jools the Scorpion has sent round another of his missives with a giant sting in the tail. Now that this year’s Guardian university league table is out, the VC, along with, no doubt, a few others, are wringing their hands and their academics’ necks to find a way to leap those few places more next year. Dissenter wonders whether it has occurred to these slippery slope scramblers that everyone is doing the same and that half the universities have to live in the bottom half of the table. The survival of the fittest manipulator of the figures? Held to ransom by the NSS? How about a fee waiver for every student who grades KU as excellent in all areas?

We are assured that the “metrics” devised by the Dear Leader are not intended to “to deliver a hit list of courses to close”, but the pep talk continues with the warning that failure to improve means that closure will be considered. This is a man who believes in the carrot and stick approach to staff motivation – without the carrot. Does the Scorpion ever pause to reflect how his actions to distress and demotivate his staff may shine through in those lowly league positions? Unlikely. School heads have been summoned.

Meanwhile, over at the Faculty of Science, Dissenter is reliably informed, the Dean, Edith C Nesbitt (also Head of Bullying), wails that most of the Faculty’s courses are in the bottom quartile, although notes that Bioscience isn’t, which just happens to be her subject. Checking the position, it appears that Bioscience is 76% of the way down the table. Perhaps she was looking at the figures through rose-tinted lab safety glasses but a quick look at a GCSE maths book suggests that this is part of the bottom quartile. Some quiet advice from her more numerate colleagues in the faculty would straighten her out. But no one will tell her. She gets rather unpleasant when contradicted.

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