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Varsity Blues

Varsity Blues

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Total Stories: 30 ���������Published: Thu, Jul 2, 2009 As The Man Says: Varsity Blues There is no job security anywhere these days, and not even the groves of academe are not immune.

This realisation comes as the announcement is made that over 100 posts are to be scrapped at the Queens University of Belfast.

The university is ranked at 202nd in a list of the leading universities in a recent survey and the vice-chancellor has said that Queens is determined to make it into the top 100, and have to achieve a higher rating even in that elite category.

It is difficult to understand how sacking 100 academics will help to enhance the status of a university, but it appears that the criterion here has more to do with finance than with learning.

The Senate of the University voted by 15 to 6, with four abstentions to make these cuts in staffing, as well as to close down the German Department altogether.

The vice-chancellor has said that the main yardstick to measure the worth of a university teacher is not only the quality of the teaching, but the value of the research which an individual produces.

It is not clear how the fruits of this research is to be marketed, but it does have a monetary value, and a university's financial well-being is tied up with success in this field.

Most of this research and subsequent publication of its results is centred on the fields of new knowledge, but surely some credit will have to be given to teachers of the humanities who are also creative practitioners as novelists, poets, or dramatists.

It stands to reason too that the more time which college lecturers devote to 'research' the less time there will be to give to teaching.

Queens, is, by Irish standards, a huge university; it is obvious that the most effective teaching comes from close and personal encounters in tutorials and smaller seminars, as distinct from lecturers given to hundreds of students in huge, impersonal lecture halls.

If excellence in tuition is to be achieved, it would sound more logical to have more on the teaching staff than fewer.

The proposal to scrap the study of the German language and literature comes as a great surprise, but, then again, it was only five or six years ago that Italian studies were dropped, along with Geography, as well as ancient languages and scriptural studies.

Can it be the case that some areas of study are perceived as 'difficult' and not likely to get the punters in? In British universities there are degree courses in Spice Girl studies, not to mention Beckham studies and courses in the management of sporting clubs.

All very interesting, no doubt, but a far cry from the traditional idea of a University as it is has been considered over the ages.

The study of German is not there simply for the benefit of those who wish to read Goethe, Schiller or Brecht in the original.

Germany is the financial and business centre of Europe, even in these hard times the powerhouse of the European Union.

The German Republic will hardly feel isolated at the decision of Queens to drop German, but Northern Ireland will be cutting itself further off from Europe, if future generations of entrepreneurs and salesmen will be less likely to be able to speak to potential German customers and investors in their own language.

Some secondary schools in the Belfast area staged a demonstration outside the Senate chamber in protest against the decision to discontinue the teaching of Germany at the University.

There is much heart-searching and breast-beating about the 'brain-drain' of many of the brightest and the best to third-level institutions outside of Northern Ireland, most of them never likely to return.

Young people studying German at school today will not be able to pursue their studies to degree level, as has been the practice up until this, and the community will be the poorer for the loss.

Apart from the closing of the German Department, those academics who are to lose their jobs across the board are not all likely to find employment elsewhere in third-level houses of learning here in the North, and their loss is not only a blow to the world of academia, but to our society as a whole.

Change is inevitable in universities as well as in every other area of life, and no section can expect to be protected from its consequences.

However, there seems to be a growing consumerism and an increasing commercialisation in the academic world, not unrelated to a visible dumbing-down in general cultural standards.

In going with the regrettable flow our universities are in danger of throwing out the baby with the bath water.

In the same week as the Development at Queens have been announced University College Dublin have decided to lay off a quarter of their researchers.

In these august institutions, dedicated to the training of the mind, policies do not seem to be thought out with much consistency.

In evidence the court heard that police had to be summoned to a local estate during a disturbance of the peace in the early hours of a Sunday morning.

A young man, in a highly agitated state was discovered to be banging and kicking at a door and shouting at the top of his voice.

The door in question had been damaged.

A solicitor explained that the defendant, who was not used to taking alcohol, had been at a party, and in a state of profound intoxication, was so confused that he had imagined that he was at his own front door and was trying to get his folks to let him in.

"In the parlance of his generation" said the RM, "He was locked out of his head." People here in little old Northern Ireland have a great obsession with 'wee matters'.

You will be frequently asked to wait a 'wee' minute, or to take a 'wee' seat, or asked if you would like a 'wee' cup of tea.

Perhaps this is why Belfast has been chosen as the venue for the forthcoming Dwarf Olympics.

That's their name for it, not mine.

This guy gets a new hearing aid.

This mate asks: "How are you getting on with your hearing aid?" He replies: "Brilliant.

I can hear sounds that I haven't heard for years.

It's amazing." "What type is it?" asks the mate.

"About five past seven" comes the reply.

An appeal has gone out in Belfast to raise funds to preserve the tender 'Nomadic' which took passengers out to the 'Titanic'.

One waterfront entrepreneur has told UTV that a new scheme for funding "Ought to be taken on board." From the quiz programme 'Eggheads'.


What's the common name of the small chamber in Fort William, Calcutta, that gained infamy in 1759? A.

The Alamo.

���All Our Yesterdays ���As The Man Says: Seconds out ���Final Word: How Much? ���Paul Moore ���As the Man Says ���As The Man Says: One Small Step .



���Get them off ! ���As The Man Says: Varsity Blues ���Final Word: Call me ���All Our Yesterdays ���As The Man Says: Translations ���Final Word: Old and in the way ���All Our Yesterdays ���We're talking rubbish here ���All Our Yesterdays ���As The Man Says: Living in interesting times ���Final Word - Tall Tales ���All Our Yesterdays ���As The Man Says - The longest day ���Dishing the dirt ���As The Man Says - Voodoo History ���All Our Yesterdays ���Final Word - Fat Class ���Final Word - Let's not shake on it ���As The Man Says - 'They're all at it' ���All Our Yesterdays ���As The Man Says: Back to the hustings ���Final Word: The show must go on ���All Our Yesterdays ���All Our Yesterdays
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