'Truth: lies open to all'


Issue 145

17 March 2016


Fortnightly during term time.

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CONTENTS: editorial, budget news, OZ and Oz, prospective prospectuses, international campuses, HEA fees, med student strikes, LUSU elections, court red-faced, gender pay gap, cultural o'ppropriation, Shart attack, concert review, letters.



In amidst their green-Guinness-inspired reveries of St Patrick's Days past, older subtext readers may have rather less fond memories of an event that occurred 10 years ago today: the rejection of the final appeal by the George Fox 6 against their conviction for aggravated trespass. Newer members of our friendly little neighbourhood university may not be familiar with this case, so here are the key facts: in 2004 a group of students staged a voluble protest against a "corporate venturing" conference that included paragons of ethics such as arms manufacturer British Aerospace and agribusiness and exploiter of developing-world farmers Monsanto ... in the George Fox Building, which we're sure readers need not be reminded is named after the founder of the Quaker movement ... whose followers believe in pacifism and environmentalism ... Who possibly could have thought this was a good idea?

Apart from the decision to hold the conference at all, and in that venue, a number of questionable events on the day itself caused concern: alleged rough treatment of the protesters by university catering staff and police, for instance. It also raised a number of questions about the relationships between the University, its students and staff, ethically questionable businesses, and the law. Aggravated trespass is an offence that can only be prosecuted with the express permission of the landowner, and the University management's role in this, apparently at the instigation of then Vice Chancellor Paul Wellings, led to widespread condemnation and anger within and outside the University, as well as considerable reputational damage. It also galvanized a group of staff into action; the George Fox 6 case was the main factor in the creation of subtext by the now near-mythical original subtext collective.

We have taken the occasion to reflect on the present climate. It isn't all peaches and cream, and there have been several missteps from top table, for instance the threat of legal action against staff during the last set of strikes. But would the current University management take the same decisions following similar events? We think it unlikely, given the more conciliatory response to the recent occupation of University House C Floor (see subtexts passim), and the eventual decision to divest from ethically problematic industries following sustained campaigning by members of the University. This is worth celebrating, but we should not forget how easily an out-of-touch and heavy-handed administration was able to ignore its duty of care to its own students and have a lasting impact on the lives of the six individual protestors involved.



1) Doctoral students without Research Council funding will be allowed to take out student loans.

2) Student number controls for "alternative providers" of degrees will be relaxed.

3) Err...

4) That's it.



Older readers may have experienced a frisson of nostalgia at the recent announcement in The Guardian that the entire back catalogue of the magazine OZ is now available online for all to view. For those who weren’t there at the time (or who can’t remember), OZ was the main voice of the counterculture in Britain in the 1960s and early 1970s. It featured art, politics, music and, of course, lots and lots about sex n’ drugs. It provided a platform for such cultural revolutionaries as Timothy Leary, Germaine Greer and R. D. Laing. The artwork contributed by the pop artist Martin Sharp and the cartoonist Robert Crumb has since become a visual shorthand for that mad, bad, gloriously self-indulgent decade.

Naturally, there was something in every issue guaranteed to outrage the Establishment. There were questions in the House, denunciations by the bishops, thunderous editorials in the Daily Telegraph all aimed at that ‘threat to society as we know it’. In 1971 the content of issue number 71 – the ‘School Kids Issue’ – led to the longest obscenity trial in British legal history. The editors were convicted but the overall effect was to increase the circulation and make an ass of the British legal system. And how did the authorities at Lancaster University react? They didn’t turn a hair. OZ was openly on sale, though at three shillings a pop (15p) it was a bit pricey for most students, so it was usually stolen and copies passed grubby hand to grubby hand in the JCRs. Despite the sometimes startling sexism of the content (particularly Crumb’s cartoons) there were no calls from students to ban it or to ‘no platform’ any of its contributors.

The OZ archive is provided, full and unexpurgated, by the University of Wollongong at with a trigger warning that some viewers may find its language and imagery ‘confronting’. subtext would like to extend its appreciation to Wollongong and its Vice Chancellor, Professor Paul Wellings, for this significant contribution to the cause of free speech and open discussion. This is the same Professor Wellings who, when he was Lancaster’s VC in 2004, tried to get some of his own staff and students imprisoned for exercising just that right (see editorial, above). Wellings may well have ‘won’ that particular battle (he is reported to have punched the air on hearing of the verdicts) but it did cause damage to the University’s reputation both at home and internationally. Nor did it do his own career any good in the longer term, which is why he is VC of Wollongong and not Sydney.



The 2017 undergraduate prospectus is out - and it looks very good. The layout is clear, the text is well-drafted and the cover design, similar to last year's "mostly white with an embossed shield" concept, stands out.

There's been an odd change, however. The list of Part One options, which was always one of the most useful pages in the prospectus, has been cut. There’s still a section headed "Flexible Part One options", and it even has the same accompanying photo, but the reader is no longer told what these flexible options are. Instead, the prospectus declares that "in some courses you can take a minor subject" and suggests that students seeking a list of minor options should look in the Online Courses Handbook for modules whose code starts with a "1".

Why the deletion? subtext's concern, based on no hard evidence at all, is that this may herald an academic "review" of our Part One system, which is not universally loved within University House. Anything more than mild tinkering would be a huge cause for concern - our Part One system is a significant boon not only to our recruitment, but our retention as well. Those involved in any kind of review may wish to look at the numbers of students who changed majors in any given year, and ask themselves if those students would have instead withdrawn from university if they hadn’t had that opportunity. Hopefully these fears will prove to be groundless - but if our hunch is correct, remember that you read it here first.



The latest paper to be promoted by the university website ( - which discusses the human rights challenges surrounding transnational education provision - makes for interesting reading, and, we are sure, would be of great use to our own denizens as they set to expand our international outreach yet further.

It's a good paper, but that the University would promote such a piece of work on its primary comms channel is a real howler. Readers may be amused to read the release, which informs them that universities "engaging in extending their programmes to other countries […] entail legal risks". This is seemingly without a shred of self-regard over the recent furore over at COMSATS, our international campus in Pakistan, where the students threatened to sue over the failure to have our dual degrees accredited by the Pakistani educational authorities.

It goes on to discuss how what a well-rounded syllabus should contain may be viewed differently in different educational contexts, with specific reference to academic censorship. Subscribers may wonder how such issues have impacted and will impact on our negotiations with various Chinese partners.

Three years ago, it was revealed that the Chinese government had been ordering its universities not to teach certain topics - Mickey Mouse subjects such as press freedom, civil liberties, failures of the Communist Party, and universal values. Furthermore, our partnership with Guangzhou Nansha Asset Operation (GNAO), who at the time were intent on funding the operation but have since run off, raised some more severe ethical questions: government agencies similar to GNAO were notorious for aggressively seizing land from the Chinese rural poor, funding themselves with unrepayable loans from Chinese banks and angering local residents concerned by the environmental issues surrounding the redevelopment of their provinces.

Unsurprisingly, Lancaster's historic failures and poor considerations aren't cited in this paper, but subtext hopes that the warnings and guidance contained therein will be heeded in future.



Subscribers who only get their news from this reliable source may be surprised to discover that sometimes things occur that subtext does not know about. Having now learnt some of these things, we present them here for your enjoyment and edification.

‘F*ck the fees’ has long been the battle cry of our more socially aware students, but last month vice chancellors across the country got to fulfil what we presume is a long held wish join in the chorus when the Higher Education Academy – Google it – decided to hike its membership fees to universities by up to 50 per cent.

The HEA, the sector’s ‘teaching champion’, will say tara to its HEFCE funding in September, which in the past had amounted to £13.5m. So, like any good champion it proposed to make up this shortfall by doubling its subscription fees for most universities – a university of 30,000 students would face an annual fee of £65,000 – and requiring academics to pay a membership fee and complete continuing professional development in order to retain their fellowships.

The board of Universities UK, who were not at all impressed, quickly fired off an angry letter to the HEA, complaining of a lack of consultation and a far steeper price for what would be effectively the same service. Sound familiar? Deciding discretion may be the better part of valour the HEA is now working the Unis UK and GuildHE to come up with an alternative subscription model, ready to implement for the new academic year.

Admittedly, in amidst the dizzying sums of university finance £65k may not seem like a lot, but as with so much these days it comes down to the principle of the thing.

The sudden downturn in the HEA’s finances is yet another consequence of the ethos that spurred the recent HE Green Paper, and it is by no means the only agency that will be going cap in hand to universities now that their funding council money has been cut. The idea of shifting the ‘cost’ from the State onto the ‘service user’ has been a common ploy in HE policy of late, though it seem this new trend will see universities, as well as students, as consumers. 

subtext is only slightly disappointed that we won’t get to whinge: “But we’re paying 65 grand for this!” 



subtext need not use up column inches explaining the ongoing junior doctor dispute - we will only say that strike action is undertaken for the common good not only of a workforce, but for those who hope to join it. 

However those medical students at Lancaster who may have wished to join their future colleague on the picket line have had great difficulty in receiving consistent guidance from the University and the external bodies overseeing their placements.

Medical students were advised by their departments not to attend their placements during the December strike days, and to use this time for 'self-study' instead. One might say that a period of 'self-study' is treated as seriously as most undergraduate students treat reading week. On January 8, students were again emailed by their department, this time advising them to discuss their 'individual arrangements' with their supervisors for the next strike day on January 12.

Some days later, they were informed by the Infirmary's head of placements that they were not to go on strike under any circumstances. Some students, however, had been supported in their desire to strike by their supervisors, and duly went ahead, only to receive a thorough larruping from the head of placements on January 12 for taking part in strikes that day.

What a kettle of fish for medicine students to be pickled in - since they complained about the mixed messages, the line has reverted to the softer "check with your guv'nor", but support for strike action differs from guv'nor to guv'nor. Indeed, it does break trade union regulations for un-balloted individuals to strike, but those who are permitted by their consultants not to show up to work on strike days are still wary of the prospect of being caught spending their free time undertaking secondary picketing by unsupportive consultants.



And so, as regular as clockwork, the LUSU Full Time Officers elections rolled around two weeks ago and six new students have been elected, ready to take up office in July. subtext would like to wish luck to the following Full Time Officers-elect:

President: Rhiannon Jones

Vice President (Education): Nick Dearman

Vice President (Campaigns & Communications): Rachel Hughes

Vice President (Union Development): Sophie Tarif

Vice President (Welfare & Community): David Whitlock

Vice President (Activities): Jack Walker

Among the winners is the usual litany of former JCR bods and sporting heavyweights, but two of the new prospects are postgraduates - formerly a rarity in SU politics but now an emerging LUSU top table trend. Indeed, the two victors were joined in campaigning by many more unsuccessful postgraduate candidates.

Some such candidates however enjoyed a mixed reception from their departments, with some being explicitly discouraged from running for office by their tutors. Surely, this isn't acceptable? While there is no university policy on this matter, running in such elections ought to be treated as a pardonable, even encouraged, exercise. After all, with the growing financial burden on PG students – currently out of their own pockets, but soon to be an extension of the undergraduate loans (see The Budget) – they have as much a right for representation as their undergraduate peers. 

What’s more, given that LUSU full time officer positions are paid positions offering a reasonable enough salary and responsibilities far outstripping that salary, is it really right that students should feel unable to take time out (at most two weeks) to attempt to gain one of these positions. Would tutors take such a dim view of students having to take time out to attend interviews, or assessment centres? We believe they would not.

If a postgraduate student is elected to office, they may have to divide their time between their professional commitments and the completion of their thesis for the first few months of employment, but subtext is not aware of anybody having failed to juggle the two. And again, this is not so very different to what they would have to do in a ‘proper job’.

As the number of PG students continues to rise it is important they have proper representation from their union, and we hope all university staff will see the need to support them in their endeavour.



Last Friday, the University Council agreed to some changes to the code of practice between the Students' Union and the University. LUSU's recent litany of utter failure and unwillingness to educate its part time officers on the democratic structures of the University and to encourage their engagement with them (subtexts passim ad nauseam) continues with the passage of this document, which was agreed by the Trustee Board and sent to the Union Council 'for information', with changes not highlighted and its significance largely unexplained.

A new clause in the document caught subtext's attention;

"At all times University and Students' Union Officers agree to work to resolve inevitable differences in as constructive a way as possible […] No disputes should be escalated to University Council for [sic] Court unless there have been attempts to resolve them in the Joint Committee."

At first glance, this is a respectable piece of guidance. Two of last year's full time officers proposed (with some resistance from the University Secretary) that the joint committee, which is a meeting of senior officers of the Union and the University, should be a clear route for SU proposals to make it onto the Senate and the University Council - a privilege previously available to the SU only through committees hosting democratically outnumbered individual officers - and this has commendably been carried through. It stands to reason that the SU should use its new bargaining tool before it tries anything drastic at Court.

However, the idea that SU officers (ALL of whom are members of the Court, whereas only the six Full Time Officers (FTO) are members of Joint Committee) should first have their concern raised on a committee that they do not sit upon is troubling.

It is confirmed by the University Secretary that any Court motion submitted by an officer who did not first ask an FTO to raise the matter at Joint Committee will be given short shrift by the Chair (whatever that means). But why is it the case that small-fry SU officers should have to rely on a small number of superiors who are usually in thrall to the University to 'resolve' an issue before they are taken seriously by the Court, whilst other members are not obliged to do the same?

Who is to say that a docile Union President won't gracefully accept a pat on the head at joint committee, and give the top table licence to disregard a troublemaking officer's motion as 'having been resolved' and not worthy of further discussion?

All of this emits a faint smell of continuing resentment from the top table, who were resoundingly thrashed by two SU motions at the 2015 meeting of the Court.

The new, 'partnership-based' SU has already allowed the University to curb student numbers on the Court (see subtext 138) in light of this humiliation. It has also had two of its initiatives, to have LUSU's constitutional standing represented in the University's ordinances rather than its statutes, and for its Full Time Officers to be appointed rather than elected, quashed by the Privy Council and the Education Act respectively. Who will ride in to save LUSU from itself this time? Perhaps Lancaster's own rules, which give no provision for motions to the Court to be treated with 'short shrift’.



Move aside ‘top-ten institution’, ‘best in the North West’, and ‘Europe’s elite’: there is a new claim to quantified fame in town. On International Women’s Day the UCU published a report on the gender pay gap in higher education, and we are proud to announce that Lancaster has the second biggest pay gap for academic-related staff.

Did we say proud? Sorry, we meant ashamed.

A female member of academic-related staff – defined as staff employed in Pre-92 institutions at contract levels of non-academic professional, team leader, manager and section manager – working at Lancaster can expect a mean average salary of £40,285. Her male counterpart can expect £43,271, a 6.9% difference. This is impressive given that across higher education the gender pay gap for academic-related, professional staff is smaller than for academics, standing at 3.2%. Bangor does have a 1% lead on us though, so it’s unlikely we’ll knock them off the top spot before the end of the season.

Looking beyond our Lancaster bubble, across higher education in 2016 the gender pay gap equates to a shortfall of £6,103 per year for each female academic. This difference in average pay amounts to a pay gap of £528m per year in total. At 154 higher education institutions women are paid less than men on average, with the largest cumulative gap found in the ‘elite’ Russell Group institutions (16.3%). The company we aspire to keep, aye?

(subtext would like to note that part of the UCU’s data for their report came from Freedom of Information requests, the very same that the current Universities Minister is keen to exempt universities from.) 



Subscribers will probably be aware of a right old kerfuffle last October over a plan to hold a ‘Day of the Dead’ night at the Sugarhouse. This was deemed by some to be disrespectful by some and a piece of rampant cultural appropriation by others. (And, of course, ‘just a bit of fun’ by yet others.) The issue of o’subtext that you are looking at comes out on St Patrick’s Day. The Irish have traditionally been fairly relaxed about non-Irish people using their saint’s day as an excuse for a hooley as well. After all, no-one really thinks it’s about commemorating a saint; if it’s about anything, it’s about raising a glass to the world and celebrating the Irish and the fellowship and good cheer that they have traditionally expressed to others – if less often to each other. The Day of the Dead, on the other hand, is about the relationship between the living and the dead, both distant and recent. Perhaps unsurprisingly, people feel quite strongly about this, even in England. If a group of Mexicans came to England and went to Wootton Bassett to have a rowdy weekend of partying to commemorate the Unknown Soldier, it wouldn’t go down well. Even less so if the Mexicans were dressed as Morris dancers. 

The real issue is where the line should be drawn. Hawaiians don’t take it personally when gangsters wear their shirts. Pagans probably sigh deeply at what goes on at Halloween, but they don’t try to stop it. St Patrick’s Day will see a lot of big green hats and green beer, both of which are abominations, but no-one gets too bothered about it. When the French market was in Lancaster a few years ago, half of the stallholders dressed up in striped shirts and berets, and most people found it amusing. The problem arises when a group of people seek to use something that another group of people take extremely seriously for non-serious purposes. ‘Extremely seriously’ in this context usually means something that has religious overtones, or at least something cultural which those of that culture hold to be in some way sacred. While appreciating that a society like ours has problems with the idea of the sacred, we have to recognise that others don’t. Herein lies the tricky bit. While everyone has a duty to be polite and respectable to their neighbours, we do not have a duty to believe the same things that they do. So, do we have to respect ideas such as homeopathy and astrology? Do we have to be respectful towards something like Scientology? It often surprises people from the UK when they go to the US and meet people who are charming, polite and charitable, as well as being active practitioners of the right to bear arms. Is it enough to say that we will respect the holder of the belief while not respecting the belief itself; indeed, is that even possible? We won’t sort this out in a couple of paragraphs. 

So, what to do? Civility helps, of course, as always. And perhaps a bit of maturity. We tend to think of the world as our playground, and that thought leads us to the idea that everything in it is a toy put there for us to play with. One of the nice things about growing up is that you realise that it’s more complicated than that. Just ask the Irish. And while we’re talking, if any Brits are planning a stag party in Dublin this Easter, it’s probably going to be a really bad idea to do your drinking on the steps of the General Post Office. Happy St Patrick’s Day.



FROM: Mike M. Shart, VC, Lune Valley Enterprise University (LuVE-U).

TO: Remit enactors, XX chromosome division.

BCC: Hewlett Venkklinne, Outside Institutional Negative Perception Troubleshooter; Roger Nightly, President, Lune Valley UCUnison; Beau Studd, Head of Workforce Contentment.

SUBJECT: New Equality Measures.

Dear ladies,

I was utterly shocked to have read the report by the UCUnison that came out recently. To those of you who are aware of this report, allow me to help you understand what it means - it turns out that you aren't being paid at the same rate as the men currently working at the institution.

As Vice Chancellor I am 100% committed to eliminating inequality wherever I see it. It just does not stand to reason that, in the 21st Century, administrators such as yourselves should be paid less than the men. Therefore, as of this moment I am intervening on your behalf, and am pleased to announce an immediate reduction in the salaries of all men working at the university, bringing them in line with your secretarial wages.

It is my hope that this will bring LuVE-U ever closer to receiving the coveted Athena Swan award, which, Hewlett tells me, plays extraordinarily well with the public.

I trust that this announcement will be regarded as a true victory for equality on our campus. Please do not hesitate to get in touch if there is anything else I can do for you.

Best wishes,



FROM: Beau Studd.

TO: Mike M. Shart.

Mike - not all of the women are administrators !!!!!


FROM: Mike M. Shart.

TO: Beau Studd.

We have male administrators?


FROM: Beau Studd.

TO: Mike M. Shart.

The point I'm making is that we have female academics! You've just suggested that… Never mind.


FROM: Mike M. Shart.

TO: Beau Studd.

Oh! No, I understand exactly what you mean. I think it'll be okay - I talked quite broadly about equality, so if anyone asks I could just say it was about ranking as well as gender? They can't prove that I didn't mean that. Besides, I've just helped them with their movement, they'll probably be too emotional to notice.

Solidarity as well as equality. That'll keep the unions quiet for a bit.




The American philanthropist Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge (1864-1953), widowed and orphaned early in her marriage, was an accomplished pianist. She had a huge influence on musical composition in the earlier years of the 20th century, but this was not through her skill as a player. She used the considerable wealth she inherited from her parents to support a quite remarkable series of the most prominent contemporary composers, including Bartok, Stravinsky, Prokofiev, Schoenberg, Britten, and Britten’s teacher Frank Bridge.

One of the fruits of Coolidge’s patronage was the violin sonata of 1922 by Bridge. This was performed in the Great Hall recital on 3 March by the violinist Jack Liebeck, with Katya Apekisheva at the piano. Born in 1879, Bridge’s early compositions were pastoral in character; but like many composers of the time, he was strongly influenced by his contemporaries Debussy, Stravinsky and others. The violin sonata is written in a complex post-tonal idiom which at times echoes the compositions of Alban Berg. Liebeck and Apekisheva gave a committed and convincing performance of this sonata.

Before this, they had played the first violin sonata by Brahms. This is a lyrical piece in which the two instruments should complement each other, but Liebeck’s thoughtful violin playing was not always reciprocated by Apekisheva, who often seemed to be pushing the tempo forward as if she had a train to catch.

After the interval the duo played the 1917 violin sonata by Debussy, a fine piece by France’s foremost composer, and to complete the recital they played the sonata of 1963 by the American composer John Corigliano. Written in 1962-3 when the composer was only 26, this sonata propelled the composer to prominence when it won the chamber music competition of Spoleto in 1964. As this fact indicates, this is a fine piece of writing, and the duo gave it an excellent performance.

Both Liebeck and Apekisheva are professors, Liebeck at the Royal Academy and Apekisheva at Guildhall School of Music and Drama – but as noted above, in performance they were nonetheless very different in character.



Dear subtext,

While only your own print job file names can be seen on the web print pages, some menu surfing on the new printers means you can see the file names of print jobs that printer has recently done. From *all* users.

This was also possible on the old "Safecom" print system. At the time I reported it to ISS, who didn't think it was a problem, as long as you don't call your document "Barry_RedundancyNotice.docx" or similar.

You have been warned (well, you have now, I don't think ISS told everyone).

Barry Rowlingson

Health and Medicine


Dear subtext,

With regard to your editorial, and your efforts to secure "continuing membership" for retired members of staff, I say well done and three cheers. I've been at Lancaster for over 25 years, I'm not done yet, but I will soon be in the debt of subtext.

Steve Pumfrey (History)


(We have received this letter from the current Senator of the Month, awarded in subtext 144 in recognition of his sterling work in forcing a management policy U-turn on continuing University membership).

Dear subtext,

I am writing with thanks having been so flattered by your last edition – can I add “subtext senator of the month” to my email signature I wonder? I now hope a swooshy logo'd badge will be struck and issued to future senators who gain this prestigious title so they can wear a badge as well as the title with pride.

I shall keep my acceptance speech short:

I’m sure we all hope this will indeed herald action and be seen as a REAL win. Some of the details and rewriting of history were, I must confess, a little lost on me but I sleep sounder knowing they are duly noted and an alternative history has been recorded in the annals of subtext. Having become embroiled in the repercussions of the current process, seen the wording of emails and become painfully aware of the deep disgruntlement of staff any changes to the process by which people departing and retiring are recognised, praised and invited to maintain a relationship with this institution are indeed a key win.

<tears and trembling lip>

I’d therefore like to thank the subtext collective, the professional services staff I represent, my family, the elder gods, Odin, etc, etc, etc.

</ tears and trembles>

Yours most graciously,

Steve “subtext senator of the month for February” Wright


And so we come to the end of another term: blah blah blah, continuing membership, Senate, internationalisation; yadda yadda yadda subtext is loads of fun so please join us, we want to share the funs with you all, we'll be in Grad Bar tonight (Thursday 17th March), love you all mwah mwah x slainte


The editorial collective of subtext currently consists (in alphabetical order) of: George Green, James Groves, Lizzie Houghton, Ronnie Rowlands, Joe Thornberry, Johnny Unger, and Martin Widden.