Senior managers at the University of Glasgow have come under fire after announcing a new venture which seeks to expand the institution’s growing influence in Asia. At an unpublicised meeting of the university’s ruling body of Court late on Friday afternoon, Professor Anton Muscatelli announced the university would seek to push on with their policy of investment outside of Europe by diverting existing funds into a new department of North Korean affairs, heralding a ‘new era’ of understanding between Scotland and the communist state, which he admitted was a ‘bombshell’ at this stage in the financial year. In addition to this unprecedented announcement, the principal also confirmed that space would be taken over from the ailing Glasgow University Union building in 32 University Avenue to accommodate academics and diplomats from Pyongyang and Chongjin. Early plans to repurpose the executive and council offices of the John McIntyre Building, with the SRC executive working from home, were rejected.
After recent initiatives that included a Memorandum of Understanding with the Singapore Institute of Technology, a jointly-operated campus with Ngee Ann Polytechnic and the new Confucius Institute (itself a cooperation with Nankai University), this move nevertheless comes as a surprise, but another university spokesman added:
The trust fund of Kim Jong-il has very generously agreed to make a donation of fifty million won available to the university as well as first option on an exciting new consignment of computers from Hana Electronics, so we were only too happy to form the Glasgow University North Korean Institute (GUNKI) and assist the study of Dear Leader in this way. Indeed we hope that this new initiative acts as a launchpad for further collaboration as our reputation continues to rocket in this region.
SRC president-elect James Harrison confirmed the executive had reluctantly agreed to vacate their office space in return for iPads, but the plan had been kiboshed by the Confucius Institute downstairs who demanded the return of border patrols between the two new departments, as is normal practice at home. Recently departed GUU president Chris Sibbald, who will shortly be taking up the prestigious role of Special Adviser in Charge of Tea and Coffee for Charles Kennedy MP, said that the union had been left no choice by the university. Sibbald also voiced optimism that the cash available may be used to refocus the union’s business plan away from a multifunctional space onto a more profitable line of weekly Iron Stomach events and biweekly foam parties. The possibility of a new cigar smoking area was also not ruled out, raising the hope of a new Cuban research centre in the not too distant future.
Members of the existing academic community were less gracious. In a wintry interview with the Glasgow Guardian Dr Kozel Krusovice, whose work focuses on the nationalistic significance of Eastern European drinking games, said ‘vital research’ would now be lost as the university had made clear its policy was now to focus on the lucrative East Asian market at the expense of other areas. He noted that he had spent literally thousands of hours emailing his colleagues over the past eighteen months to stop cutbacks to his department, and this would mean ‘mutually assured destruction’ for both parties in the long-run.
A statement could not be obtained from the Anti-Cuts Action Network (ACAN), the Cuts Action Network for New/Alternative Ethics (CANNAE) or other protest groups, but one unnamed spokesperson suggested they were attempting to occupy the GUU forthwith. This, it was claimed, could potentially cause ‘major’ disruption to the GUU bookings schedule, with four weddings, a funeral, and a Tory Party bake sale scheduled for the next nine months, bringing in significant amounts to the union’s bank account to allow them to maintain their extensive range of student services.