subtext 121

19 June 2014


'Truth: lies open to all'


Every three weeks during this (summer) term.

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CONTENTS: editorial, more on appointments, senate, intellectuals in politics, uni web site, shining armour, parsley sage rosemary and thyme, don't have nightmares, spot the difference, not a business plan review, libraries, libraries again, please clap for tinkerbell, letters, emotional blackmail



The initials UMAG stand for University Management Advisory Group, but in fact most members of the group are in executive positions: UMAG acts effectively as a management team for the University, rather than being simply advisory. Uniquely among University committees, its terms of reference are not published on the University web site. The members of UMAG are all there ex officio, by virtue of their positions in the University hierarchy: the Vice-Chancellor, Pro Vice-Chancellors, Faculty Deans, Directors etc. None is elected. Consequently, the same people serve for a long time, and the only change is due to the creeping turnover of appointees to University positions.

This is a potentially-dangerous arrangement, because on some topics UMAG may not have to hear any dissenting views. Certainly, any big issues have to come before Council and/or Senate for ultimate decision, but UMAG has the information, and information is power. UMAG also has the advantage over the larger bodies that it meets more often; it can put some decisions into effect before Senate or Council has the chance to react.

The essence of democracy is that there should be a furnace of debate, from which the best outcome will be forged. To be sure, this can consume people's time and energy, but the outcome is likely to be more equitable, more widely acceptable, and best for the organisation.

Is it not time for UMAG to consider whether its modus operandi should be reviewed? If it were to take this way forward, it would probably enjoy widespread support. But if it does not, perhaps Council and Senate need to flex their muscles and insist on such a review being carried out.



In an interview earlier this month (see the Minister for Universities and Science, David Willetts, seemed singularly unruffled by the findings of a BBC survey showing a sharp increase in student complaints. Willetts, indeed, welcomed the impression that students are becoming 'more and more demanding', urging universities 'to raise their game and improve the quality of the teaching experience for students'.

Those who have already seen Laurie Taylor's response in the THES ( might feel that this provides a very adequate answer to Mr Willetts. However, the minister's failure to recognise his own government's part in this situation is so very remarkable – a feat of myopia comparable to, but less understandable and somewhat less courageous than Nelson's imperfect visual reconnaissance at Trafalgar – that we couldn't let it pass without comment.

As we all know too well, government policy on tuition fees was perfectly designed to foster a culture of complaint, since it left students both empowered and indebted. The new power was somewhat less palpable than the debt, but once the effect of the latter was felt the former was bound to be exercised, whether or not there were any plausible grounds for complaint. In a rational society, the academic community is (at the very least) entitled to expect strong support from a government which, in its wisdom, has enacted policies which strip away the last vestige of deference in the relationship between tutor and student. Instead, what we have is a series of remarks from Mr Willetts whose ultimate logic suggests that universities faced with a potential complainant should stuff his or her mouth with a First Class degree in the hope that this will serve as sufficient appeasement.

In topical spirit, imagine Mr Willetts as the Chairman of a football team. On his current form, he would be saying: 'We've just tripled the cost of admission to our games. I'm delighted to see that this has resulted in a significant increase in the volume and duration of booing whenever our team fails to put the ball into the opposition's net. Everyone knows that the team could be doing better, even if we have managed to secure a decent position in the marvellous league tables. I myself have noticed that, for lengthy periods of each game, the ball is on the field of play rather than nestling in the opposition's net. It is time for us to raise our game, so that the ball will be in the other team's net for at least 99 per cent of the time. While we await this upturn in performance, those who attend our games can boo as much as they like, in order to raise the morale of our (frankly overpaid) performers. Once this objective is achieved, I will be delighted to join our fans in serenading the teams of underperforming rivals with the refrain 'You're getting sacked in the morning/Or at the very least being put on teaching-only contracts''.

If rumour is to be believed, Mr Willetts might not be in post for much longer (see Even academics who bear him no personal animosity have been forced, by his own recent conduct, to pray for such an eventuality. In media commentary Mr Willetts has been saddled for far too long by the sobriquet 'Two Brains'. This can be traced back to his time at the 'Centre for Policy Studies' think tank, rather than the interesting books he has written since he became an MP. In reality, there are lots of people in the present government who can boast exceptional academic qualifications. 'Two Brains', however, seems to regard his cerebral reputation as a free licence to make life impossible for academics; it would be wrong for us to speculate on the reasons for this, but it is just possible that the hype surrounding his doubly-endowed cranial capacity has led him to believe that he could be a much better academic than every single person currently working in Higher Education.

This sorry saga of 'Two Brains' Willetts might provoke readers into thinking that fully-fledged intellectuals should never be allowed to exercise political power at any level. This would be a regrettable over-reaction. It is true that British 'intellectuals' who have strayed into public life have generally lacked judgement; but there is no iron rule which decrees that intelligence should never be accompanied by common in the prevailing climate of superficial, soundbite-ridden British politics is a sign that the aspiring politician lacks common sense – or is not quite as intelligent as he or she was supposed to be.



subtext has been known occasionally to step in and offer some background checks on new senior appointments to Lancaster University. No-one is perfect, and even the most fool-proof procedures can lead to certain undesirable appointments slipping through the cracks here and there. In the last issue, subtext reported on four new D-Floor appointments and promised to enact its usual contribution to The Big Society. Hours of intensive research ensued in the subtext warehouse, and yet Google produced absolutely nothing of concern – a most unusual instance, we thought. There was a moment's respite when it transpired that one member of the collective was erroneously using Google Maps, but still nothing came to light after the settings on the search engine were corrected. No criminal records, history of causing major staff dissent or alleged involvement in political lobbying scandals came to light on the new appointments. The investigation therefore comes to no worrying conclusions, and can happily report that of the four, one is an alright Guy, one seems Decent, and the other two have surnames that cannot easily be wrangled into puns.

However, one peripheral piece of data was produced which could give readers an idea of what to expect from Professor Stephen Decent, our newly appointed Pro-Vice Chancellor for Research. In a contribution to the National Centre for Universities and Business (NCUB) website (, Professor Decent would appear to be a strong supporter of an Impact-judged approach to research quality. While many academic departments (Sociology, Engineering, etc.) are more easily adjusted to creating impact with their research, could such a staunch measure of quality prove
troubling or even oppressive to staff (a reaction Professor Decent summarily dismisses in his article) working in academic departments that have fewer means (or indeed intentions) of creating 'impact'? (For further reading, see links.)

On top of these discoveries, subtext can also announce that Professor Chetwynd has been appointed to the role of Provost for Colleges, Student Experience and the Library. Readers who enjoyed the editorial of the previous issue of subtext will remember the following hypothetical question being put regarding the potential re-instatement of Professor Chetwynd: 'Of interest to subtext is the term of office for this role (if any!) and how it might correlate to the term of office for the role it sets to replace (Pro-Vice Chancellor Colleges & the Student Experience). Professor Chetwynd has, at this point, served the full four years plus one renewal that the PVC role affords her'. The question still stands, but now more strongly. Is the salary for the revised role the same, and if so, was its rejigging a means of constitutional free-styling intended to maintain the status quo in University House?


SENATE REPORT: 18/6/14 (following up from the emergency edition of subtext, released yesterday)

As is usual for summer Senate meetings attendance was sparser than at other times but it was quorate and proceedings began with a Question on Notice to the VC from Dr Rachael Rigby (Biomedicine) concerning support (or the lack thereof) for early career academic staff. The VC acknowledged that such people constituted 'the lifeblood' of a healthy institution and that more can and should be done to support their career development. He added, in his defence, that were it not for the recent changes to Senate's membership to include early career academics, Dr Rigby would not be present to ask the question.

On, then, to the Vice-Chancellor’s oral report to Senate. Nothing new or controversial here, with acknowledgements to staff who have received a Queen's Birthday Honour and thanks expressed to those for whom this was their last Senate among the items mentioned. Following this came a written report from the University Secretary summarising recent UMAG business. This standard item normally passes without comment but on this occasion Professor Charlie Lewis (Psychology) had a number of questions regarding a UMAG decision to change the procedures for costing research proposals by shifting the work involved from departments to the Research Support Office. Professor
Lewis was concerned that this may slow down responses to tenders and thus lose money for the university. This elicited a bullish response from the VC to the effect that universities with a better track record in winning research income use this approach and anyway (his clinching argument in discussions like this) it worked at Warwick. Neither he nor the others who responded to Professor Lewis attempted an answer to one of his questions: what is UMAG’s authority to make decisions on issues like this? A good question, one periodically asked over many years, and still not answered. Perhaps one of our many subtext readers knows the solution to this mystery – answers on a postcard please to the subtext warehouse.

Next up was paper from PVC Professor Mandy Chetwynd on the review of the Academic Tutorial system. Readers won't be surprised that this initiative has proved to be problematic in operation (as was forecast when it was first proposed to Senate two years ago) and was criticised in a recent KPMG internal audit. Professor Chetwynd's paper made a number of sensible proposals, principally the creation of a new departmental role of Academic Tutor Co-ordinator, which were accepted by Senate.

We then came to the main bout on the afternoon's bill – a proposal to enable external organisations to deliver Lancaster's Part I teaching – featuring (in the blue corner) PVC Professor Steve Bradley and (in the red) just about everyone who had read his paper. The discussion was prefaced by a statement from the VC that he had detected that already this proposal had 'caused some heat' (no names, no packdrill, although subtext could be immodest for a moment...) and that it was important to be clear about what is in the proposal and what is not. Professor Bradley then presented his proposal, saying that the intention was to create a 'new pathway' for entry into Part II for students who would not have met our entry requirements for Part I. Furthermore, his paper set out a framework for approving external partnerships that would involve the participation of departments, faculty teaching committees and the University-level Collaborative Provision Oversight Committee (CPOC), something that we don't have at present. In other words, it was all perfectly sensible and no reason for colleagues to feel alarmed.

First contribution in the following discussion came from the ever-loyal Professor Sue Cox (LUMS), who declared her full support for the proposal. However, it soon became clear that not everyone held the same view as speaker after speaker exposed the flaws in the proposal. Particularly effective was Professor Robert Geyer (PPR) in unpicking some of the finer detail of having an external organisation provide something termed a 'Part I plus'. Strong opposition also came from student Senators, with Mr. Joel Pullan (LUSU) pointing out that there was far more to Part I than the academic experience, and that it would be lost by handing it over to an external body. Searching questions about access to the full choice of subjects in our 3-subject Part I came from Ms. Caroline Arnold and Mr. Ronnie Rowlands (LUSU). A particularly telling intervention came from Professor Sigrun Skogly (Law) who said that her department's arrangement with Blackburn College to deliver a Part I Law programme had been ended because of quality issues relating to delivery. This revelation was particularly embarrassing as the Blackburn arrangement had been cited by Professor Bradley as a precedent for his proposal.

Dr Bronislaw Szerszynski (Sociology) talked about his experiences of being part of a consultation exercise with International Study Group (a key beneficiary if Senate approved the proposal) and his fear that what was being proposed was a 'slippery slope'. It fell to Mr. Joe Thornberry (Bowland) to point to the issue that was at the root of most concerns – the fact that Senate was being asked to agree to allow external, for-profit organisations who may not even be education providers to deliver a key part of the core academic business of the university. He reminded Senate that when the partnership with International Study Group had first been proposed in 2006 Senate had been assured that such outsourcing would never happen. If Senate agreed to this now it would be the crossing of a very important line, with consequences that had the potential to damage seriously the university's reputation.

Following a number of further contributions, Professor Bradley withdrew his proposal, stating that he would consult further before re-submitting it to Senate. (Memo to the Secretariat: please inform the top table that once a proposal has been formally put it becomes the property of the meeting and it is not up to the proposer to decide to pull it when it runs into stiff opposition. This has now happened on more than one occasion in Senate). In a final piece of deft footwork, Mr Rowlands elicited from the VC an undertaking that no new partnership 'outwith current procedures' would be entered into.

Following this discussion, business was completed swiftly. DVC Professor Andrew Atherton introduced for discussion, in his usual confident style, papers on the Strategy Implementation Plan and Planning and Resource Allocation process (there was, in fact, little discussion). Professor Bradley then re-entered the ring with an update on the Guangwai-Lancaster project, which this time actually looks like it will happen. This was followed by presentations from the Directors of ISS and of HR on, respectively, Digital Lancaster and the new People Strategy. It was for both their first appearances in the Senate spotlight, and they both acquitted themselves well. Finally, after deciding to reduce the number of Chancellor's Medals awarded each year from five to four, the Senate meeting concluded.



Lancaster University's first web site was launched in 1997, as documented by Mike Cowie at It was pretty respectable at the time, but viewed through 2014 spectacles it looks very old-fashioned.

A year later, a new, improved web site was introduced (, but this still looks very dated.

In those distant days, a web site was viewed as chiefly a source of information: a place to go to find things out. But now a web site is one of the most important ways in which an organisation is able to create its image. It's good to report that the University is moving with the times: recently our web site has become an interesting read.

Try going to the University's web site and clicking on News and Blogs. There's a quite moving article entitled 'Remembering Adlestrop' by Christopher Donaldson, a piece on childhood obesity by Garrath Williams, and one on the ebola virus by Derek Gatherer, all of them well worth the couple of minutes it takes to read them.



Congratulations to Cary Cooper on being awarded a knighthood. When subtext spoke to him about this, he seemed modestly bewildered by it. These Birthday honours seem to fall on shoulders that are selected almost randomly, from among the large numbers of people who might merit them. Sometimes nominations appear to have been made chiefly because the nominators will be able themselves to bask in the glory reflected from the honour.

Professor Cooper is chair of the UK Academy of Social Sciences, and this may have been led to his being proposed for the honour - but Lancaster University can certainly also feel warmed by it.

As an aside, subtext would like to flex some immodesty at the fact that, for the first time ever, it has managed to report on Professor Cooper's latest achievements before VickyText.



Sage, rosemary and thyme are growing healthily in front of County Main. (Parsley isn't there at the moment, but perhaps it will appear later - parsley is a notoriously slow germinator.) All the plants are labelled, which is very helpful to those who might be interested to learn what they are, as well as to those who fancy adding some flavour to their cooking.

Actually, we shouldn't be picking these herbs, because they have been planted there as part of a joint project by University grounds staff, the Green Lancaster group and chefs from the University's Catering division - they are intended to be used by the County South kitchens and by Refuel, where they should introduce a fresh and tasty note to the dishes.

There is new planting in other plots across the campus, too: in raised tubs outside the Faraday complex, and on the roof terrace of InfoLab, for example. (For more info, see



At the risk of coming on all UKIP and ending your year on a scary note subtext has been made aware plans to create an EU-US single market that will allow corporations to sue governments, using secretive panels that bypass courts and parliaments. This could despite first appearances have implications for Universities. If you thought the research playing field was an uneven one now – think again. The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership is the largest free trade agreement ever negotiated and we hear almost nothing about it in our mainstream media. Also known as the US-EU Free Trade Agreement and TAFTA, it is currently being negotiated in secret and the public's interests, particularly that of the British public, are being questionably represented. A leaked EU negotiating proposal (see below) for the far-reaching free trade agreement with the US reveals the European Commission's plans to fundamentally change the way regulations to protect consumers, labour and the environment will be adopted in the future. The proposal follows a persistent campaign by business lobby groups on both sides of the Atlantic to use the proposed transatlantic trade deal to maximise the deregulation of food and product safety standards. If they have it their way, future decision-making will go underground, escape democratic scrutiny and be wide open to business lobbying.

George Monbiot offers a typically acerbic view:



During the University Strategy's lengthy consultation period, senior management were implored (by a large number of students and staff) to include a greater focus on developing and maintaining our collegiate system. It therefore came as a big surprise to subtext to look at the University's brand spanking new website. The new layout is Interactive and Digitally Engaging (there are links to videos and sections that move around and stuff), but when compared to its previous incarnation, something seemed to have vanished. Rather than spoil the fun, subtext invites readers to scour and spot the difference between:

The front page of the new website:


An archived version of the front page of the old website, taken last month:

As Jerry Seinfeld would say, 'What’s the deal?!'



The University is embarking on a number of Thematic Reviews. The first of these (described as a pilot or trial) is looking at research support. Where next? subtext understands Admissions will be looked at (again).

Generally the theme of these thematic reviews is a return to the centre. We are informed that this is not a business plan review – it may look like a BPR and to those staff who are being reviewed (scrutinised) it may smell like a BPR, but we are reliably informed that it is no such thing.

Also coming is the latest corporate document the 'People's Strategy'. This is a document containing no mention of industrial relations. Given the year we have just had, subtext ponders on whether this is just an oversight or a deliberate action.



It is not all doom and gloom on the libraries front (Issue 120). Your cultural correspondent had the good fortune to visit the Library of Birmingham late last year. It is located at Centenary Square, the city's most important public open space in the heart of Birmingham city centre's Westside. Described as a major new cultural destination, it is well worth a visit. Your correspondent spent an entire day (and it was not raining) wandering around the ten levels – it is one of the largest public libraries in the world. Open seven days a week, the building comprises a spacious entrance and foyer with mezzanine, lower ground level with indoor terraces, four further public levels and two outdoor garden terraces, a 'golden box' of secure archive storage occupying two levels, provision for staff offices and service plant on a further two levels, and at the very top of the building a rotunda feature housing the Shakespeare Memorial Room.

New facilities including state-of-the-art gallery space open up public access to the collections for the first time. It is also home to a BFI Mediatheque, providing free access to the National Film Archive. Other facilities include a new flexible studio theatre, an outdoor amphitheatre and other informal performance spaces and dedicated spaces for children and teenagers. Described by its architect Francine Houben as a 'people's palace', the Library of Birmingham is highly accessible and family-friendly, and well worth a visit.



Talking of libraries, your correspondent was impressed on his recent work-related visit to the Southend campus of the University of Essex. They are also celebrating their 50th anniversary and you're right, none of the staff I met had any idea what was going on regarding commemorating this achievement.

Their spectacular ultra-modern library and learning zone is located opposite the Southend Campus and houses a huge range of books and resources as well being equipped with the latest technology.

Whilst not an option for Lancaster, the Forum Southend-On-Sea does offer a very different experience to the traditional type of education or public buildings. Jointly funded by Southend Borough Council, the University of Essex and South Essex College, it serves three distinct groups of people: the public, students from the University, and students from the College. In doing this, it is the first of its kind in the country.

The building consists of a superbly stocked integrated municipal and academic public library, a modern teaching facility for South Essex College, a stimulating research and learning environment for the University of Essex, a new home for the Focal Point Art Gallery and a 200-seat Lecture Theatre and refreshment facilities. Very friendly people as well.



(see 'A Researcher Reports' in subtext 120)

A Researchers' Association has been proposed at Lancaster University. The institution is 50 years old and we have never had one. In fact some of us have been here for half of that time and have never been asked if we would like one, so at least that may be progress. Are we researchers rising from the background and gaining a profile? Positive announcements have been made by the VC and others about the future of research here and we wonder about the details.

The general tone coming from the University and its officials is that researchers should look to the future and contribute positively to the development of the institution. This 'there will be jam tomorrow' attitude, sadly, is missing the point and demonstrates a lack of memory about the institution and where it has come from. In effect researchers here have been jamless for so long that we have forgotten what jam looks like!

There is a great deal that researchers can, and do, contribute to the University. However, there is a great deal that the University could do to value that contribution and enable the workforce to build upon it. A little recognition in promotion pathways would be nice. For example a number of us regularly engage with the general public and have done so in the course of our work for many years.

No one particularly noted the work we were doing so we just got on with it. Now we have 'impact' and 'engagement' and suddenly it is flavour of the day and academics are expected to do it. Those who do it receive plaudits and promotion. Meanwhile the researchers continue to do it and remain invisible and it is not acknowledged in promotion criteria as a skill nor is it valued in any other way.

The invisibility of the researchers is also enforced in the funding system. As we put the bricks together to build to build future research proposals we are in effect building other people's careers rather than our own. The means by which we, if we are very lucky, may continue our position is by writing a proposal where we are the Research Associate and the Principal Investigator is the visible person.

So little recognition is given to the work of the researcher that rather than jam tomorrow we are in a state of asking the children to clap to bring Tinkerbell back to life! You may ask why, if it is so difficult, do we do a job that has little in the way of a career pathway, lacks many forms of professional recognition and is insecure? Well the answer is a little old fashioned – it is because many of us love the research and research related challenges we face daily and because we are good at it.

We are not looking for positive discrimination just a little equity with our academic colleagues.



Nice angry piece about the 'statistical illiteracy' of journal impact factors:

Trouble is afoot for Durham's collegiate system. Isn't Durham one of the 'other universities' that the Vice-Chancellor frequently holds us up to? Oh dear: 

D-Floor never mentioned this the last time they heralded our league table positions: 



Dear subtext,

From far off Australia I've read your senate newsflash with some concern. In Australia we've been hearing stories of private providers, on contract to less elite universities, telling teaching staff their jobs depends on them passing a pre-set percentage of students in each cohort. I know of one sessional lecture who quit rather than comply when faced with a particularly poor cohort. Such a system creates a race to the bottom and a complete disconnect between the standard of work submitted and the marks awarded for it. Lancaster's proposed move puts its reputation at risk if quality problems, outside of the University's control, were to emerge. It also suggests Lancaster has lowered its sights and is seeking comparison with a lesser class of institution internationally. The potential damage to the Lancaster brand that could result from this alone should not be ignored.

I take heart from the existence of a competent Higher Education regulator there in the UK, but I do so with a strong sense of unease. Taking comfort in the existence of a strong regulator is a little like taking comfort in the local hospital having great expertise and experience removing bullets... as shots ring out night after night.

Andre Oboler

PhD '07, former member of Senate & former observer on the QAA Board


Dear subtext editors,

I am one of the unfortunates recently turned down for promotion to Senior Lecturer despite hitting the criteria several times over in terms of research, teaching and service. What follows is a flippant email dealing with a devastating blow to someone who has for decades perceived themselves as having 'academic fraud' stamped on their pretty blonde forehead. 

I won't bore you with the details of my achievements. But I get good stuff published. I was entered in the REF 2014. I get invited to speak at conferences. I even impact things. Students like me and they do well on my modules. I have held meaty admin posts, at departmental and faculty level. Six worthy Professors from around the globe went out on a limb to say they thought I was alright, and indeed have been kind enough to say they were rather surprised I didn't get promoted. That cheered me up. A bit.

I did not EXPECT to get SL. I am perfectly aware of my flaws. And I am definitely not bitter (honest!). But hey, it would have been nice. I am disheartened but have tried not to take it personally (as everyone keeps saying, the Committee are looking for reasons NOT to 'give' you promotion). Having put in on average 60-70 hours a week 6 days a week for the past 8 years at Lancaster I am now wondering why I invested so much time and effort in an institution whose promotion processes are far from transparent and at least to my (albeit paranoid) mind seem a wee bit unfair.

Yet who am I (or we) to question or god forbid complain? I have scores of friends my age who are unemployed, underemployed, or employed in other sectors (like manufacturing, Primary Education and nursing) that are in far worse states than HE. Try working a 12 hour night shift on minimum wage in a recently privatised care home as my best mate's mum has done for 27 years. That puts my disappointment in perspective.

Keep on keeping on.


Dr Karenza Moore

Department of Sociology

Lancaster University


Dear subtext,

It was interesting to read Richard Austen-Baker's denunciation of the use of state vs independent schools as a measure of social inclusion (subtext 120). I used to think - like the playwright Alan Bennett, who this week  launched a fierce attack on private education, describing it as unfair - that  parents who sent their offspring to independent schools (helped by favourable tax breaks) were buying advantage in an unequal system skewed towards private schools. Likewise, I felt it was totally reasonable to use criteria comparing state and independent schools, and that it would be fair to show how the two sectors compared with each other, given that the latter had all manner of financial and other advantages over the former.

Reading Richard Austen-Baker's letter in subtext, therefore, was an eye-opener. No longer will I think of Eton, with its high fees, easy access systems to Oxbridge and other elements in British life, as a bastion of the rich and privileged. The data he has presented almost rendered me to tears as I contemplated images of parents sacrificing one of their holidays in Gstaad or one of the Range Rovers as they scrimped to buy a better place on the social ladder. 

Clearly if we are to take social inclusion seriously, we need to reverse the criteria and make sure we focus more on Independent schools, whose intake, judging by much of Eton's intake, is so reliant on school scholarships. subtext could take the initiative here; stop all this silly campaigning about privatisation and the like, grasp the real issue of the day and start a campaign demanding free entry to such poor souls and the establishment of a charity titled the 'Disadvantaged Etonian Scholarship Fund'. Perhaps some of those poor Etonians who have fought their way through the ranks with no hint of privilege, such as David Cameron and Boris Johnson, might be persuaded to be  patrons? Forget the poor folk who have lost out through the bedroom tax and IDS's various welfare 'reforms'. Richard Austen-Baker has hit on the most pressing issue of social deprivation of the day: independent schools and the sacrifices made to buy privilege.

Ian Reader, PPR



And so, at the end of another busy year, the subtext warehouse closes down for the summer. Drones will be oiled, unpublishable materials will be burnt and the collective will collapse in a heap of its own flippancy for the
time being. This army marches on its laurels, but readers may have noticed that the disclaimer now stipulates that subtext is to be released every three weeks during term time, rather than every two weeks.

Some members have dropped off for good, others have taken sabbaticals and not used that period (as was initially assumed) to spend more time focussing on this publication. This has slowed us to the occasional halt and more than a few hectic deadlines. It is our hope that new members of the collective will express an interest in joining in on the fun, lest subtext runs out of dying breaths to draw. subtext is also reliant on letters, information, concerns and ears to the ground: we greatly encourage readers to get in touch should they be aware of any activity worthy of a spotlight. Without people like that, subtext cannot serve its purpose to its very fullest: to be the critical voice of Lancaster University's staff and student community.

Until next time, here's to the next time!


The editorial collective of subtext currently consists (in alphabetical order) of: Sam Clark, Mark Garnett, George Green, Ian Paylor, Ronnie Rowlands, and Martin Widden.