Lately, it's been getting harder to take anything happening in higher education seriously. This article in the Times Higher today gives us yet another reason to chuckle: the funding council in England has changed the term 'pockets of excellence' to 'islands of excellence'. Those of you following the allocation of research funding from the RAE2008 will know that teaching-oriented universities were delighted to have some of their 'pockets' of research excellence recognized and funded. Now the funding council would like to make it clear that these pockets are actually islands, because islands can be connected to the mainland.
This news comes at the same time as Dublin is busy establishing a super-innovative and enterprising 'corridor' of high-tech excellence. If we've got some islands or pockets of excellence beyond the pale, how far will this corridor extend? Wait . . . can a corridor actually reach an island, or do we need a hand reaching out towards our pocket . . . or . . . hmmm.