A Leak from a Sick Institute

An anonymous whistleblower recently sent S&C a leaked copy of the annual report to the Board of Governors of the Southsea Institute of Creatindustry Knowledgehow (SICK), delivered by Vice-Chancellor Heister Hoare-O’Mammon.

Ladies, gentlemen, bishops, retired oil executives and obscure 1970s heptathletes, I’m pleased to announce that we’ve made a stupendous amount of money this year. Unimaginable, in fact. Through strategies as wide-ranging as committed engagement and engaged commitment, we’ve upsurged our revenue without in any way compromising our integrity, academic rigour or the delivery quality of our quality teaching deliverables.

This afternoon, governors, I have the privilege of sharing with you precisely how we have achieved this happy outcome.

First of all, 81% of our teaching staff are on zero hours contracts, a teeny bit higher than the national average. But don’t worry – the other 19% will never be promoted and we’ll be making them redundant as soon as we legally can.

We’ve had much better things to hurl our resources at such as our recent re-branding exercise. £10 million well spent, I’m sure you’ll agree. It is a very nice new logo, isn’t it? The ‘S’ does look a bit like a swastika, I grant you, but the ‘outhsea’ done out in that flowing Songs of Praise font really sends out the message that we are a dynamic, innovative, 21st century institution. £5 million for the rights to the Songs of Praise font was also money well spent, as you know. The other £5 million bunged to a top-rated Manhattan advertising agency staffed by people lying around on bean bags snorting cocaine all day was equally good value… and not just for them.

I won’t pretend the publicity around the logo has been all good. We’ve had five negative Tweets so far. If we’d had twenty we’d be worried enough to ditch the logo and spend another £10 million on a new one.

While we’re on the topic of money – and it is all about money these days – some of you have expressed concerns about the size of my own salary. Let me be clear: it isn’t that much higher than the living wage – for a Vice-Chancellor, anyway – and seldom strays beyond six figures. But for that sum, governors, you get real quality.

I’m not going to pretend that I have a world-class research profile because I don’t. Have I got ground-breaking publications by the busload? No, I don’t have that either. If you think you’ve hired a highly experienced and widely respected teacher – which a lot of laypeople who don’t really understand modern education think might be a good idea – I’m afraid to disappoint you in this respect too.

So what do I have and what do I do? Well, it’s not all shaking hands and wearing a silly gown at graduation, you know. Here’s a little taster of what I’ve been up to this year:

Facilitating broad facilitation throughout the institute community by shaking hands and wearing a silly gown at graduation.

• Fostering unbending flexibility, spineless resilience, deadlocked change and top-down empowerment to face off the (oxy)moronic challenges of the modern scholastic marketplace.

• Ensuring there were more pictures of BAME students in this year’s prospectus to compensate for the fact that we work closely with organisations who go around the world merrily slaughtering BAME people (more on this later).

• Flying first-class to China twice a week ostensibly for the duty-frees but, if I can be bothered, also reaching out and dipping in to a diverse – but more importantly lucrative – pool of potential students.

• Watching our values and our vision come to life from the balcony of my third home in Bali several thousand miles away.

As you can see, it’s a dirty job but someone’s got to do it.

Now, we’ve been criticised as an institution for getting into bed with more or less any external organisation that has gargantuan lumps of cash to chuck at us. But that is an outrageous allegation. There’s no more or less about it; we’ll get into bed with any external organisation that has gargantuan lumps of cash to chuck at us… and our new constitution means we don’t have to fret about rubbishy little things like ethics, morality or conflicts of interest.

Governors, I’m glad I can hear sighs of relief from you, especially from the chap who used to be in the oil game.

Let me mention some of the research projects we set up this year in partnership with such organisations.

  • ‘Sustainable Anteater Fashion Supply Chains: An Evolutionary Biological Perspective’ funded by St Maniac’s Ninth Creationist Church of Armageddon Hellfire, Waterlooville.
  • ‘Applied Research into Opto-Electronic Materials Utilised by NextGen Smart Mobility Scooters Which Definitely Could Not Ever Be Used in the Production of Lethal Weapons Intended for Murdering Penniless Infants in the Middle of the Desert’ funded by BAE Systems.
  • ‘Confronting Media Bias in Local News’ funded by all the revenue generated by the Portsmouth News‘ marvellous election day ‘Vote Tory’ front page advertisement. (If I may add a personal observation here, governors, I think we were all distraught that this ad didn’t swing it for us).
  • ‘The United Nations Convention Against Torture: Thirty Years On’ funded by the Donald Rumsfeld Centre for Disturbing Memos and the David Miliband Institute for Implausible Deniability.
  • ‘The Coming Threat of Russian, Chinese and (Probably Now) Venezuelan Global Imperialism’ funded by the US Central Intelligence Agency, the US Department of State and the British Foreign Office.

We appear to be in a time-sensitive situation, governors, so let me move swiftly on to the issue of human resources and how we plan to – if you excuse the corporate jargon, I was in the public-private toilet cleaning sector for 41 years – dehumanise our resources the better to implement a simulated learning environment (this is essential since we’ve decided to stop funding a real learning environment).

We’ve just terminated the contracts of 18 senior lecturers in order to pay for five new chairs. After we’ve bought them we’ll create five high-profile academic posts with a little help from our network of strategic investors. This will build our reputation as a regional, national, international – and, further down the road, interplanetary – hub of research excellence. The new roles are as follows:

• The Peter Griffiths/Milo Yiannopolous Teaching Fellowship in Cultural Integration

• The Goldman-Sachs Research Fellowship in Marxist Economic Theory

• The Ronald McDonald Professor for Applied Dietetics

• The Mel Gibson Professor for Holocaust Studies

• The Professor for the Public Understanding of Chuck Norris (we haven’t been able to recruit anyone for this role yet but Mr Norris’ cheque has just cleared so we’d better get a shift on).

Well that’s about it, governors. As you have just heard, we as an institution are in a superb position to overcome the rewards and bank the challenges of the next academic year. Don’t know if I got that the right way round. Come September we will also be enabling activities to underpin our strengths, or underpinning our strengths by enabling activities. Not sure which way round that goes either, to be honest.

Most crucially, however, we expect by the next time we all meet to have trebled our wonga, our dough and our loot. Especially our loot; I like loot. Or, to put it another way, we have to treble our income or we won’t recoup what we spent this year on building new student accommodation (I forget the exact figure but it’s roughly equivalent to the GDP of Swaziland), and indeed the same amount again on my wine cellar. Our Entrepreneurial Support Shaman Mr Fleming assures me that all this is doable given that we’ve had special dispensation from the Ministry of Education to raise our undergrad fees for 2017/18 to £90,000, an increase of 900% on last year. We just have to hope the buggers turn up now. They ought to. Hopefully. We’ll let anyone in really, so long as they have the… Well I don’t even need to say it, do I?

If we do fail to move positively in a positive financial direction, we’ll enter a brave new stage of our institutional evolution, what the brainboxes call ‘sustainable unsustainability.’ But don’t be alarmed, governors – thanks to the good work of our friends in the government the whole of higher education’s going the same way.

Image by SirMetal [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons licence.