subtext 166 – ‘building a subtext that works  or everyon ‘

Fortnightly during term time.

Letters, contributions, & comments:

In this issue: editorial, technology, special report: gary neville, iLancaster, centralisation, buildings 1, court in a trap, court again, the times, nazis, buses, printers, swoosh, inkytext, inkytext 2, buildings 2, buildings 3, John Hadfield, shart attack, theatre review, letters.



The drones are oiled, the shelves are dusted, and the caretaker has been rendered conscious long enough to re-open the subtext warehouse just in time for the 17/18 academic year. And not a moment too soon, for the summer has lived up to its reputation as a time for either burying bad news or pushing it down the hill to snowball until it’s too late to make sense of. Sometimes, the subtext collective wonders if it should be active during the more conspiratorial months. Other times, the valedictory Vanilla Skies and the preparatory Pinot Grigios that buffer either end of the summer vacation are much too distracting.

Readers will remember that we opened the 16/17 academic year by allusively referring to the Gary Neville University. Only seven months after its existence was unceremoniously broken by the Manchester Evening News, the University last month finally acknowledged its impending birth( There are only so many times that subtext can harp on about what a Bad Idea this is going to be before we end up looking like a doomsday preacher, but… this is a very, very Bad Idea.

Below you will find our most detailed report on the matter yet, written now that the collaboration is no longer ‘commercial in confidence.’ Stepping back from our detail driven sleuthing, though, we can ask a broader question; ‘Why?’

Why are we taking a 40% financial stake and a 100% reputational share of what is essentially a new university set up with a group of retired footballers? If it were some private educational firm like Study Group International, subtext would at least be able to understand why top table would be enticed. But we are going into business with a collection of individuals who emphatically are NOT experts in higher education. THEY can cut their losses and walk away if it all goes wrong, whereas Lancaster University would suffer years of reputational damage. The fact that tuition fees are due to be frozen for an unspecified period will leave the University with a hole in its budget over the coming years, but with no reduction in how much it has to contribute to the Gary Neville University. A series of funding cuts (see subtext 165) were already ordered at the end of the last academic year – looking down the line, how much harder are we going to be squeezed to fund this absurd project?

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