Saturday, December 4, 2010

Diary of an Executive Dean

(There was such a huge response to Diary of a Faculty Dean we wanted to continue the piece with the next entries of the diary. Unfortunately, as the Dean is still on sick leave we have been unable to do this. Instead, we have the Diary of an Executive Dean which we hope will shed some light into just how hard the senior management at the Free University work.)

October 15th: Mergers, mergers, mergers – that’s what it’s all about these days. Of course it was a long time coming and then suddenly its panic stations. First we had the Provost’s solemn denials, then the VP’s pathetic obfuscations, followed by months of hints and innuendo. Now it’s bloody panic! We have to find someone to merge with – and soon! No problem, sez I – haven’t we been stringing along the Catholic University up the road for the last 4 years. I’ll give my mate up there a call and see if we can’t produce some inane document or other about closer ties and that kind of horse-shit. It’s worked before.

October 19th: problem sorted! One phone call and a month’s work done – now that’s what I call efficiency. I’m feeling very pleased with myself about the whole thing – I had to calm down the VP. He always gets rattled by this kind of thing. I was a model of calm, told him that it was all sorted and we’d have the paperwork in by the morning. He actually kissed my hand with relief. I can’t wait til his position comes up again, I’ll screw the sap. Anyway, that’s a battle for another day. Now it’s time for Mimi’s Massage Klinik and a little light relief. Because I deserve it.

October 24th: The document finally arrived and it’s perfect. Full of task-sharing initiatives, blended learning, synergy baloney – they lap that stuff up in the Department. Impenetrable flowcharts, muddled lines of command, endless repetition – there’s even an executive and a non-executive summary! Is this a first? Anyway it’s just the kind of rubbish that got us lorry-loads of cash a few years ago, it should do the trick. God I love this job.

October 25th: strange day today. No one seemed to want to talk to me. In fact, they were positively avoiding me. The VP’s secretary gave me the glassy glare that I know means something’s afoot. I call her the canary – when she starts drooping on her perch you know there’s some noxious gasses around. I’ll hold tight and see what gives. Must call my chum in the Catholic University tomorrow, see that everything’s still on track. Off to the Klinik now for a top-up. Nothing like a happy ending after a hard day in the ivory tower.

October 26th: those idiots! They’ve pulled out of the merger with the Catholic University! My friend, or should I say, former friend, was spitting blood at me. We’re chasing a goddamn amalgamation with the Corpus University and the Catholic University has been left hanging. And I wouldn’t mind but Corpus are our sworn enemies – our football team even has a special song about eating their entrails. I’ve been trying to get to talk to the Provost, but he’s been “away from the campus” – i.e. avoiding me. The VP’s secretary was looking especially smug. God I hate this job.

October 27th: finally go to talk to the Provost and plead with him not to dump the amalgamation with the Catholic University, to no avail. He thinks that Corpus is more prestigious. My arse – it’s just bigger and he thinks he’ll get more money if we hide under their coat-tails. What an idiot – we’ll just catch more of their shit, is what’ll happen. I’m despairing. I don’t think Mimi’ll do tonight – I’ll have to call to Mistress Domatella for a sound thrashing.

October 29th: very despondent today. We had senior management briefings about how to break the amalgamation news to staff. Nothing too surprising:
  • Middle Managers: stress the “opportunities” in becoming an even smaller cog in a bigger machine – they lap up that rubbish.
  • Administration Staff: the message is: “don’t worry, nothing will change here”. It’s amazing how gullible these people are.
  • Technicians: brass tacks with these folks, stern line about what needs to be done and how they’ll be dumped if they so much as squeak.
  • Academic Staff: Nothing to say to these guys. Who ever talks to them anyway?

November 4th: Catastrophe! Corpus have ditched us at the altar! Those bastards, they’ve jumped into bed with South Eastern University and are hanging us out to dry. Now we have no-one to turn to – after we screwed the Catholic University they went and got hooked up in some god-awful arrangement with Midlands University and who knows who else. But we can’t be left this way. I was very I-told-you-so with the Provost today, which he didn’t appreciate. Well I’m beyond caring anymore.

November 5th: things are getting desperate. We still haven’t found anyone to merge with. After the general management meeting we went for a few drinks and it soon turned into quite a session. Before the night was out it was looking like the last night in Hitler’s bunker. I finally managed to find my clothes and stagger home at 5am. How long can this go on?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Free University condemns "vicious" amalgamation rumours

The Free University has condemned rumours that it is to be amalgamated with a rival university in an effort to cut costs.  “Such vicious rumours have no basis in fact, or indeed, in fiction”, said university PR Manager Peter Catchup.
The university management are said to be particularly incensed with the suggestion that the only remaining question is which rival university the FU is to be amalgamated with. “There is no way we are going to be handed around like a teen at an Italian prime minister’s party”, said Mr. Catchup.
The union for administration staff has also denied the rumours. Local union representative Shirley-Joe King said “we have been promised by head office that nothing will change. And they crossed their hearts when they promised, so we know it’s true.”
The Free University's Minister for Financial Undersight has also moved to debunk the rumour. "The Croak Park Agreement says absolutely nothing about redeployment or rationalization or saving money or anything like that. It’s the same as all of the other national agreements – it says absolutely nothing,” said Sargent Major Dennis Bloodnok.
According to the FU President “no-one needs to worry. We’d like to assure all of the FU stakeholders that, if amalgamation is to happen, the University management will be the first to read the press release from the Department”.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

SCUM and Their OAF’s Training Programme Announced

The Schools and Colleges University Managers, in collaboration with the Once And Future managers have announced a new suite of training courses designed to help Free University managers in their day-to-day work. “We are entering a critical period for the Free University”, said programme coordinator Prof. Shameless R. Sole, “and the skills on offer will be of great use to anyone considering a job as a manager in these savage times.” Offerings include:
Controlling the Squirm Reflex: As any modern manager knows, situations arise on a daily basis in which even the doughtiest would find themselves extremely uncomfortable. Whether it's defending the indefensible, evading responsibility or dumping it on those closest to you, there are a whole set of circumstances that are not for the weak-willed. Crucial to the handling of these situations is the suppression of any telltale physical manifestations of discomfort, such as flinching or squirming. This module is taught by the multi-talented Prof. Mór Onn, whose ground-breaking course “Controlling the Gag Reflex” helped many of the FU’s managers to attain their current lofty positions, and is sure to be a big hit.
Sycophant Development and Handling: The middle manager has always depended upon a coterie of sycophants to act as both a rear and advance guard in battle situations. The development and handling of these suck-ups requires careful attention and in this module staff will be introduced to all of the latest techniques. Included will be a discussion of the on-going nature-versus-nurture debate: can a person be turned into a sycophant or are they just born scumbags? Learn how to harness their cowardice and low self-esteem to maximum effect and remember: the worse you treat them, the more they come back!
Truth and the Art of Creative Misinterpretation: We live in an imperfect world, and while things may not be the way we want them to be, that’s no reason to pretend they aren’t. That’s the message of this module, delivered by FU’s very own Prof. Wun Dum Fuk. Drawing from his vast experience of timetabling, hiring and firing, cooking the books and manipulating colleagues, Prof. Fuk has a wealth of experience to share from the academic frontline. Starting with such novice techniques as Flirting-With-The-Truth and Creative-Misinterpretation, the learner will soon find themselves sucked into the more advanced Bespoke-Falsehoods and Lying-To-Order. Unmissable.
Sleeping at Night: Whether it’s pissing on a staff member while telling them it’s raining, taking flak for the wankers above you, or putting the kibosh on former friends, sometimes sleeping at night is an uphill struggle for academic management. This module will cover all of the bases of ensuring that you get at least a little bit of sleep at night: complete moral schizophrenia, selective memory suppression and targeted ethical anaesthesia. The FU’s in-house Doctor will also be on hand to dispense free tranquillizers. 

Top honours for the Free University, again

The Free University received top honours at the celebration held at 'The Nodnarb Hotel' to mark the inaugural awards night and celebration of the first anniversary since the creation of NAHMAAH- the National Association for Helping Make All Awards Higher. 
Representatives from many institutions attended the lavish ceremony in the hope that their efforts to raise the standard of grades achieved by their graduates would be recognised. 
Professor Slash N. Byrne, the Dean of Academic Standrads, represented the Free University at the awards ceremony and was visibly delighted to accept the 'Hallemup Trophy'. The trophy, named as a mark of respect to the recently deceased Professor Willy Hallemup of the Free University's outreach centre in Duffbally, is awarded on an annual basis to the institution which achieves the greatest level of grade inflation in the shortest possible period of time. 

It is generally acknowledged that the award represents the pinnacle to which the members of NAHMAAH aspire. The significant publicity accruing to the Institute which wins the 'Hallemup Trophy' ensured that competition was always going to be intense for top place. Readers may recall that it was alleged that some security officers of unnamed institutions were recorded on hidden cameras forcefully extracting votes from detainees at a delicate stage of the judging process. 
Thankfully, however, a root-and-branch investigation by the independent office of the Dean of Malfeasance at the Free University - together with the unfortunate loss of some security camera footage- meant that no evidence of malpractice by any party was found. The final decision was not easily agreed by the jury but ultimately, the Free University was judged to have earned the award by the thinnest of margins.
Accepting the award on behalf of the Free University, Professor Slash N. Byrne thanked the jury (which was chaired by the President-in-Perpetuity of the Studnets Union at the Free University, Jay Pee, and consisted of a colourful panel of international beneficiaries of NAHMAAH) "A dhaoine uaisle, I speak for all of us at the Free University when I say that we are deeply honoured to have won this prestigious award in its inaugural year. Meine kameraden, this award is a testament to the benefits of the educationally broadening initiatives and grade semi-desemesterisation structures which our team has worked hard to bring to fruition. Je voudrais to thank our esteemed leader, Chancellor Horatio Hornblower, for his forceful words of encouragement and persuasive acts of cruelty which ensured that we all believe that we think we understand the apparent necessity for these very important changes to our model of blended isobaric pedagogical and tautological methodologies." 
Turning to address the jury panel, he continued: "Ye can be proud of what ye have got. We hope that ye'll never forget your turd-livil collidge when ye are scattered around the far, nether regions of the globe in search of employment. God bless and all that, like- tanks for everyting, so."
We are sure that our readers will join with us when we offer our sincere congratulations to all at the Free University and look forward to the next such awards ceremony.

Free University opens the CLIMAX wing

The Free University today announced that it has finally opened the doors of the much anticipated 'Centre for Looking Intelligent, Modern And Exciting' wing. Construction of this facility, which has long topped the list of essential resources sought by the management team, will mean that that all lecturing staff in need of a freshening up of their lecturing style can avail of this facility's state-of-the art resources. 
Cilla Smileykins, the promotions officer of the Free University said: "Lecturing staff in need of a freshening up of their lecturing style can avail of this facility's state-of-the-art resources." 
In a tour of the facility led by Horatio Hornblower, the Chancellor of the Free University, much attention was paid to the specially designed 'Barnacle Removal Unit', 'Posture Correction Device' and the 'Brain Extractor and Enhancer Machine' which are expected to be among the most popular of the many facilities availed of by the most senior staff.
Sir Hornblower noted that the facility would also be made available to the entirety of the Free University's management team. "I am proud of the dedication which I alone have shown in ensuring that this magnificent facility has finally seen fruition. I have issued Directive 227.2A to my minions requiring that they avail of the treatments and procedures which I have personally selected for each of them."
Cilla Smileykins gushed: "It is a testament to the dedication of our great leader that this magnificent facility has finally seen fruition. May I also add", as she flashed a pearly-white smile, "that I am honoured to have been included in the lengthy list of VIP's who have been personally prioritised by our great leader for the first set of treatments."
When questioned about the status of the impending application for funding to commence construction of the 'Free University Centre for Keeping High the Awards of New Graduates- Experimental Models' (FUCKHANGEM), Sir Hornblower commented: "I expect to be making an important announcement on that matter shortly." 
"An important announcement on the matter of that application will be made shortly by our esteemed leader", purred Cilla.
It is widely understood that this proposed facility has as its objective the imposition of appropriate sanctions on staff who fail to meet targeted student exam success quotas. We shall keep our readers posted of the progress of this application.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Students’ Union Offers Free Tattoos

In an effort to help new arrivals at the Free University to fit in, an innovative partnership between the Students' Union and the Trades Department is offering freshers free tattoos. The tattooing, which is being carried out by trainees from phase 6 of the Ink Apprenticeship course, was a big hit last year with incoming students, as these photos show.

“I tink its grate”, said Union President Jay Pee, “you dont have to be pissed to get a tattoo anymore. And these days you look stoopid without one”.

The University Chancellor also welcomed the continuation of the scheme. “Given the way the apprenticeship area is going, it is heartening to see new groundbreaking courses such as Ink Apprenticeship taking off”. 

Chancellor’s Report

Board of Trustees
Chairman of the Board, Councillor Phlegm Gargle, commended the Free University on the wonderful quality of the crab soup served at the recent Trustees meeting. Questions arose, however, as to the origin of the caviar at the meal – while some thought it must be of Iranian origin, others felt it was more likely of Azerbijani provenance. The Minister of Strategic Initiatives has been delegated to ascertain the truth of the matter and is due to report later in the year.
A special session was held for Trustees on filling out Free University expense claim forms. The session was well-attended and, according to all involved, very informative. The introduction of payment for the time and effort spent in filling out the claim forms was welcomed by Councillor V. ‘Cal’ Maher – “The issue of expense forms has been discussed at every Trustee meeting I’ve attended since 1901 and it is great to see some action finally being taken”.
The other agenda item was the question of the inclusion of Trustees associates on the upcoming visit to the Seychelles University. Following a lengthy debate, it was decided unanimously that while spouses, family and cousins of Trustees could be included in the visit, only ‘close’ friends would be allowed to take part. “This historic decision will finally put an end to the ‘junket’ claims that the media love to trumpet” said Trustee Phil D. Quota. The meeting adjourned to top restaurant Le Coq Hardon.

Student News
Congratulations to student Nora Spect (4th Year Business) on her wonderful success in the Mercy Mounthawk Secondary School egg-and-spoon race. While rumours have surfaced of the use of glue or similar banned substances, the Free University Students’ Union is preparing to vigorously defend Nora’s achievement.

Staff News
All the staff at the FU would like to wish our recent retirees well.  Prof. Shay M. Lesswaster and Prof. Dodge N. Duck have spent many years servicing the Free University and we wish them the very best in the future. The University Health and Safety Inspectorate are investigating the circumstances in which Prof. Duck was struck by the door on the way out, and a full report on the incident is expected soon.
Congratulations to Prof. Patch Slurp of the Department of Absentee Professors on his obtaining of planning permission to build 300 luxury homes in a new ghost estate in Vellybally West. We would like to take this opportunity to commend Prof. Slurp on his ability to work the Free University system so well, and, since we’ll be seeing even less of him over the next year, to wish him every success in his endeavours.

Consternation at outcome of recent FU 'self-evaluation' process

There has been widespread concern at the 'Result Withheld' which the Free University awarded itself after completing its recent self-evaluation process. It is not immediately clear why the internal panel gave such a rating and the result has caused a degree of friction amongst the staff and management in the Free University.
Prof. Shifty Mc Gonagollogus, the Director of Counter-Propaganda at the Free University, commented that the result "should be seen in the context of the Free University endeavoring to postulate for itself a unique selling point, a key market-place differentiator, a means of distinctly branding the institution in a manner which our competition had not contemplated heretofore."
However, this view was not universally accepted. Horatio Hornblower, the Chancellor of the Free University gave an emergency briefing to all staff earlier today when the result was announced. He was flanked by Sargent Major Dennis Bloodnok, the Minister for Financial Undersight at the Free University.
According to insider reports, the two protagonists presented a fearsome sight, with Sargent Bloodnok toting a fully loaded AK74 machine gun, black face-paint and a particularly stylish Italian suit.
Sir Hornblower sported combat fatigues, a bandoleer of bullets and a colourful blood-red handkerchief wrapped around his toupee. According to one source, the main content of his terse statement was as follows: "This result is grotesque, unprecedented, bizarre, unbelievable, shocking, horrid, indescribable, totally erroneous. We cannot understand how this has come to pass. Let me reassure the stakeholders in the Free University and make it very clear- there will be a full-scale investigation headed by myself and Sargent Major Dennis Bloodnok. We will leave no stone unturned, no page unturned and no dessert returned until the odious individual or individuals who signed off on this rating are discovered. When the malevolent, odious, sniveling worms are found, I will personally ensure that they are subjected to the full rigours of the sanctions permitted by the bye-laws of the Free University. These bye-laws will be published just as soon as my minions have finished typing them up from the free-hand notes I gave them earlier today and I will personally rubber-stamp them prior to the next meeting of SCUM. Read my lips - there will be no more tactlessness on the part of the Free University during my watch."
Sargent Major Dennis Bloodnok concurred: "This is exactly the kind of flexibility envisaged under the Croak Park Agreement."
It is not known whether the disappearances, drive-by shootings and summary executions of another era, memories of which still strike terror into the minds of even the most fossilised staff at the Free University, will make a return. We will keep our readers posted on any further developments of this fast-moving story.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Diary of a Free University Dean

Editor’s Note: criticisms of Irish third level education have been coming from all directions recently: the liberal media, opportunist politicians, out-of-touch business groups, self-serving corporate CEOs etc.  We in the Free University would be the first to admit that perhaps as a sector we have failed to make the case for the defence by highlighting our many strengths and achievements.  In an effort to redress this imbalance The Pylon brings you the unexpurgated diary of a Dean at the Free University so that everyone can see just how hard we all work.  

September 1st: another dog-and-pony-show on the first day back. God – could it have been any more demotivating. Still, cuts and all, we got our free coffee and bun – at least some things are still sacred. Chatted with the other Deans. Christ, I wish we didn’t hate each other so much.
September 7th: students arrived today to total chaos. We’re still trying to find out who told them that the first class was at eight in the morning. When we do, they’ll be fired. Or promoted. Around here, who knows which.
September 9th: I got my first three impossible jobs for the week. First, I have to timetable 3 classes, divided into 7 groups with 4 lecturers over an 18-week rolling schedule split 4-4-2-6-4. Then I have to find some way to over-rule an exam board on the results of two dozen catatonic students. How much arm-twisting is possible without the limb actually snapping off? And that’s not a theoretical question. 
Finally, the worst is I have to try and find the facilities manager – his nickname is the Scarlet Pimpernel. Although that’s a moniker that could fit any number of people in this place. And I can think of lots of other even more appropriate names for the facilities manager.
Things are getting tough – time to hide in the storage press under the back stairs. Sometimes the only relief I get is curled up in there for an hour or two. 
September 10th: spent all day staring at spreadsheets making sure that all lecturers are timetabled for 6 hours and all students get at least 40% in their exams. I’ve heard a rumour that the University Deans are being referred to in a derogatory way as 6/40’s by members of the academic staff. That’s so unfair – if they only knew how much we suffer. And compared to those lazy gits in the IoT sector who only have to work for 6 months of the year and make more money than we do….it makes my blood boil.
September 13th: horror of horrors – I went to the storage press for a bit of respite and found the Dean of Arts was already hiding there! We had a sharp exchange of words – he claims that the press is owned by the Faculty of Arts. But it’s under the stairs in my faculty. Is it time to set-up some type of press allocation system for Deans to hide in? Probably a total waste of time – just look at the classroom allocation system. No, it’ll have to remain the law of the jungle.  
September 14th: I can’t believe it – I’ve just found out something and its making me wretch. My boss, the Executive Dean, has been “working from home” for the last week. Nothing unusual there - it’s where he spends most of his time during the academic year. But I have just now discovered that his boat, which he has on Curragh Lake near his house, is called “Home”! I noticed the name on a photo on his desk. There he was, fishing and taking it easy with a shit-eating grin on his face. And when I think of all that smirking he does when he tells me that he is “working from Home” or “catching” up on paperwork or “flying” through the documents or “casting” around for ideas. What a sod! But what can I do?
September 15th:  I’ve really screwed up this time. I must be more frazzled than usual. It all started straight after an excruciating Schools and Colleges University Management meeting last week. Not that it was any different from the usual SCUM meeting: the phony-concensus-building, the awkward silences and dearth of ideas, the ritual humiliations, the flagellations. Business as usual for management in the FU. 
But for whatever reason, after the traditional post-meeting stiff whiskey in my office, I sat down at the computer and got the spreadsheets mixed up. I ended up timetabling all of the lecturers for 40 hours a week and altered the grades of hundreds of students to 6%! It’s a mistake anyone could make, for God’s sake. After all, half the bloody lecturers were students here last year! 
All hell broke loose today – I had to barricade myself into my office with what can only be described as a savage mob of students banging on the door. I tried to calm them down through the keyhole, but when I heard the lecturers arrive and pick up a bench to use as a battering ram, I decided it was time to use the emergency exit: the ventilation shaft.  
I climbed along the filthy shaft thinking things couldn’t get any worse, when I had not one, but two strokes of good luck. First, as I passed over the Dean of Arts’ office I saw him receiving the amorous attentions of a first year student. Hah – that’s the last time that bastard’ll use my press as a getaway. As I continued on and rounded a particularly tight bend in the shaft, a panel split and I fell through the ceiling onto the desk in the office below.
As luck would have it, it was the Dean of Human Services’ office. He sat back in his swivel chair, calmly looking over his glasses at me lying sprawled across his desk covered in filth. He’s been at the FU for over a decade, so he wasn’t in the least bit fazed by the situation. He calmly opened a drawer in his desk, took out a form, held it up for me and said “I suppose now you’re looking for stress-leave?”

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Free University Announcements

The Office of Academic Standrads is pleased to announce the new suite of Educational Broadening Modules for the coming academic year. Included in the offerings this year are
  • Bouncy Castles (Level 6)
  • Sleeping in an Upright Position (Level 6)
  • Advanced Colouring (Level 7)
  • Complaints Procedures and Their Uses (Level 7)

Prof. Slash N. Byrne is modest about the courses, saying “I suppose it’s what you come to expect from Irish third level education”.

The Schools and Colleges University Management would like to announce the cancellation of all academic meetings for the following week, as it has been discovered that there are no agendas to be pursued.  Should an agenda arise that requires pursuit, relevant academic staff will be notified in a timely manner.  Irrelevant academic staff will not be notified.

Department of Human Services: on foot of a recent report, the Free University Provost has decided that the academic staff are not “fit-to-team” and that, under the Croak Park Deal, every lecturer is to be made redundant. 
While this will have only a marginal impact on the total number of staff at the FU, the Provost has expressed regret at the outcome. “We will miss some of their faces around the place”, said Provost Hornblower. “Some we won’t”.
The Provost is, however, very optimistic about the future of the Free University. "The new, slimmer team will work much better now," he said, "decision-making will be more stream-lined and going forward there will be more synergy."
The Free University's Minister for Financial Undersight has welcomed the announcement. "This is exactly the kind of flexibility envisaged under the Croak Park Agreement", said Sargent Major Dennis Bloodnok.

Computer Resources:  the latest edition of Windows has now been installed on all FU computers.  The new version, Windows, Fool's Gold Edition, has a number of bugs that are currently being worked out.  In the meantime, staff are being advised to undertake the following on start-up.
Before logging into the system, staff members should stand up, turn around, clap once, hit the ground, drop their pants (if they have the male version installed) or lift their skirt (if they have the female version installed) and count to ten backwards, before entering their password.  
This will expedite the login process, while also giving the Computer Technicians a good laugh.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

SCUM presents: the Faculty of Business Choir

In a much anticipated show, the School and College University Managers were delighted to present the Faculty of Business’s very own staff Choir.  Under the expert conducting of Prof. Slash N. Byrne, the Choir struck just the right note at a well-attended recital in the Free University recently.  Included in the programme were such crowd-pleasers as “Stand by me”, “A spoonful of sugar” and “Me, myself and I”.

Soloists included Prof. Emeritus Dim Blunt, whose audacious rendition of “How could you do this to me” brought the audience to its feet.  Also appearing was the reclusive Prof. Sawf Tutch, who made a rare outing from the University undergrowth to sing “I love you just the way you are”.

Particular attention had been paid to the orchestration, masterminded by Prof. Haggard Sow, who was on hand to prevent anyone drifting away from the well-rehearsed script.  The finale was a heartfelt rendition of “Don’t leave me this way” by Prof. Byrne, which brought tears to the eyes of over half the audience.  

Over the years, members of the Choir have proven extremely popular with Free University students.  Student President Jay Pee said “they are a great bunch of lads and they’ve been serviced by the students many times down through the years”.  It is hoped that the University will play host to the Choir again in the near future, although there are no immediate plans for further recitals.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Centre for Teaching Effectivity Issues Health Warning on New Teaching Methods

The Free University’s main teaching research unit has issued a strongly-worded warning on new teaching methodologies that appear to have unintended side-effects. In at least two cases lecturing staff have been hospitalised while utilizing the methods.

Prof. Ima Aarçe, Director of the Centre for Teaching Effectivity warned “only those who are fully qualified, who have undergone special training, should use the Blended Learner Teacher method. These are powerful tools and in untrained hands can have serious side-effects.”

The BLT method uses advanced teaching methods such as conceptual blending, cognitive meshing and partial pedagogic inversion.  The controversial method often involves confusing cause and effect, competence and confidence, objectivity and subjectivity.

Recent studies carried out by the Centre have shown that the method can lead to instabilities in both lecturers and students. The severity of the side-effects can be linked to the level of the teaching material.  Common side-effects include:

Level 7 – mild irritability, irrationality,
Level 8 – uncontrollable laughter, prone to do circus tricks,
Level 9 – severe irrationality, loss of long-term memory,
Level 10 – ecstatic visions, near-life experiences.

In one recent incident two lecturers got their teaching styles meshed and required painful surgery to be separated.  In another, it was alleged that a lecturer and a student had become enmeshed through rapid pedagogical interactions.  An investigation by the Dean of Malfeasance concluded that there was no evidence for this rumour.

In a better documented case, Prof. Watt A. Sap underwent a full pedagogic inversion and became convinced he was a primary school student.  Prof. Sap is currently on sick leave until he makes his Second Holy Communion.

Despite calls from some quarters, the Free University is reluctant to ban the method, as it has also been shown to result in increased grades.  The Dean of Academic Standrads has made it clear that any attempt to ban BLT would be to the detriment of the University.  “We are where we are, and if we weren’t, we’d be somewhere else where we’d be”.

The Professors’ United Federated Fellowship (PUFF) has been cautious in accepting the BLT method.  “As far as teaching and learning goes, it is the only game in town,” said Prof. R. Bitrary,” and we accept it only under protest”.

The Free University's Minister for Financial Undersight has welcomed the Centre’s announcement. "This is exactly the kind of flexibility envisaged under the Croak Park Agreement", said Sargent Major Dennis Bloodnok.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Message from the FU Provost

It is finally that time of year again. The University is buzzing back to life, the summer holidays a distant if pleasant memory. Students throng the halls trying to work out where they are expected to be, lecturers march around trying to work out where they don't want to be, and presiding over it all with a benign calm, the heads of faculty. 
Such a large jolt of life to the University, will always lead to some hiccups, but I am delighted to report that the first few days have gone off without a hitch. Once again the Free University's much lauded Information System has lived up to its reputation. No more of the headless chicken routines, the room over-bookings, the fisticuffs between lecturers or the crying secretaries. 
Is it any wonder that in our recent Critical Self-examination Process, the Information System received a special commendation? Indeed, this is the only such commendation ever awarded in a  Self-examination Process by an Irish University, which speaks for itself.
While it can be hard to stay positive in these difficult times, we at the helm of the FU will be guiding the ship away from some dangerous rocks and into a glorious dawn. If at times our instructions to row like crazy may not be understood by those without our clear view, please bear with us and, most importantly, do as you're told.
Wishing you a productive and competitive year,
Horatio Hornblower III
Free University President

Clarification on the Meaning of Academic Awards

There has been some confusion about the meaning of the Grades being awarded at the Free University. We at the Office of Academic Standrads would like to assure all of our customers that our awards are of the same fine quality that they have come to expect.
To help FU steakholders,  the Office of Academic Standrads has set out below the exact meaning of the various awards. Any further queries can be directed to my office,

Prof. Slash N. Byrne
Dean of  Academic Standrads

Pass:You know about one third of what you are supposed to know i.e. this result means absolutely nothing.
Merit 1:You made great choices with your electives and all those walkover EBMs have finally added up.
Merit 2: This means that in days past you would only have passed, which would mean absolutely nothing.
Distinction: There was some serious fracas at the Board of Examiners meeting and you were dragged up a full 15% to get this – no one can quite work out why.
Fail: With your performance, even your uncle from Castleisland on the Board couldn’t save you – let him explain it to Mammy.
Exemption(s) granted: Even penny-pinching Free University Professors give to charity occasionally – you actually only passed half the number of exemptions you got.
Noted – Not Eligible for Award: No one in the history of the Free University has ever gotten one of these, so ignore this.
Noted = Subject(s) incomplete: Remember all those Thursday mornings when you woke up with your head in the washing machine instead of being at practicals?
Deferral of Results: That forged note from the University Doctor seems to have worked – now is time
to play the dyslexia crad.
Results Withheld: You might not be embarrassed by your results but we are, and we’re going to keep quiet if you will.
Second Class Honours Grade 1: Appeal this result – you’re bound to get upgraded to a first class honours at the second look.
Second Class Honours Grade 2: Count your lucky stars – all those nights spent in Hormones Nite Klub don’t seem to have halted your progress through the system.
First Class Honours: Don’t take it personally – these days at least 60% of the class has to get this.

Welcum from the Student President

Hi all,

As we are at to the strat of the academic yeer for 2010/2011 I and my close friends wood like to
thank all the adminisistration staff, lectures and heads of deportments and managements for all the hilp and support they'l be giving uz in the next year. We wood like to say thankyou face 2 face for making things a bit easier. In fact, the easier the bettr!

It will be a plehsure working ;) with yee all.

All the Best and someting

Jay Pee

Office of Academic Standrads Announces Semi-Desemesterization of Grades

In line with a recent rubberstamp by the Academic Senate, the Office of Academic Standrads has announced that the Free University will be moving to semi-desemesterization of the grading structure. Under this innovative scheme, students' yearly grades will be determined by the larger of their first and second semester grades. 
The change has been prompted by the confusion created during the recent semesterization of  year-long courses.  The Free University is anxious to ensure that no student is penalised for what most outside observers have called an "utter fiasco". In a bid to see off lawsuits, the Free University has awarded distinctions to the whole class of 2009 in all disciplines, and is now implementing changes to ensure that there is no repeat of what has been a disastrous year.
"We are desperately trying to put this behind us" said the President of the Academic Senate, Prof. Henry Martini. "Our quality assurance mechanisms are now the best in the world," he added hastily.
Dean of the Office of Academic Standrads, Prof. Slash N. Byrne is adamant that the changes will go far enough to satisfy even the most apathetic student. "Other than dropping our trousers in the street and bending over, I'm not sure what else we can possibly do," he said.
Meanwhile, the Free University's Minister for Financial Undersight  has welcomed the changes. "This is exactly the kind of flexibility envisaged under the Croak Park Agreement", said Sargent Major Dennis Bloodnok. 
Another positive spin-off has been the patent on the system, established by the Minister for Barmy Schemes, Prof. Smarm E. Gett. "A number of other Universities have expressed an interest in our model, and we will be licensing out the format through a campus start-up company, Hire Education Ltd." 
A Students spokesman was not available for comment as of Thursday afternoon, since Wednesday night is Pukers Niteklub student night.