Reporter 403, 2 June 1997


Letters

Measure matters

Professor Alan Watson
Pro-Vice-Chancellor

I think I have achieved a few things during my period of Pro-Vice-Chancellor but I have failed to convert many to the correct use of M and k (rather than m and K) when describing matters of finance or distance. The Vice-Chancellor has been won over, the Finance Director is nearly converted – but not the Reporter. Page three (19 May) indicates that our new Learning Centre cost only £3m (0.003 pence) and our financial deficit is similarly negligible! There are well-recognised international standards in these matters: please note M=106 and k=103 while m=10-3 and K is a unit of temperature. These matters are important. Proper use would show a small degree of scientific literacy and understanding: just because the Financial Times is similarly muddled is no excuse.

To the slaughter

Dr Colin Hendrie
Department of Psychology

If someone who ran a frozen chicken factory came to me and asked for advice concerning quality assessment based on the lines of TQA (for which many of us have been madly collecting student feedback forms for our courses), I should say “At the end of each stage, ask the chickens how they feel about the quality of the being-turned-into-a-frozen-chicken process.” Have I got this right, or am I getting confused with something from ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’?

Open information

Dr Alan Bullock
Department of Italian

Mrs Tebb’s letter in Reporter 402 misrepresents my views. Nowhere do I suggest that the University disclose the “considerable personal data” it has on any member of staff, merely that departmental secretaries provide callers with the number of those individuals who do not object to being contacted at home. Those who are not listed in their area directory and who see such calls as “disrupting their private time” are obviously at liberty to remain incommunicado; those of us who feel differently and who are in any case accessible via BT should not have incommunicability thrust upon us. In this context I see Mrs Tebb’s reluctance to distinguish between double-glazing salesmen and colleagues or students as somewhat eccentric in an environment supposedly dedicated to the dissemination of knowledge and communication.

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