Issue 275: 2021 04 15: HUWN

15 April 2021


A new minority.

By Robert Kilconner

Scene: A recruitment consultant offices.

Consultant: Good morning, Mr Binks.  I understand you want our advice on where to apply for a job.  Let’s have a look at your CV.  Hmm, it seems to be full of spelling and grammatical mistakes.  I think you should say up front that you are dyslexic.  Most employers understand that nowadays and will make adjustments to help you fit in.

Binks: But I’m not dyslexic.

Consultant: Oh, English not your first language perhaps?  What used to be called BAME?  You look pretty standard issue Yorkshire to me but maybe you were brought up abroad or kidnapped and brought up by terrorists who only spoke Arabic.  Was it something like that?

Binks: No, nothing of that sort.  It’s just that I’m from HUWN.

Consultant: HUWN.  Where is that?

Binks: It is not so much “where” as “what”.  HUWN is the name given to a collection of Universities, Hull, the University of the Arts London, Worcester and Nottingham Trent, who believe that their staff should “actively accept spelling, grammar or other language mistakes that do not significantly impede communication unless the brief states that formally accurate language is a requirement”.  Brilliant really.  Means you can get a good degree without wasting time on spelling and grammar.  Clamps down on elitism.  A sort of Russell Group but in reverse.

Consultant: I see.  But you have put down marketing as your career preference.  How will your employer use you if you cannot write English properly?  It won’t do for a marketing executive, I am afraid.

Binks: Oh well, never mind.  What about law, or management or finance?

Consultant: I’m afraid they may want communication skills there too.  You really need something where you only have to communicate with other HUWNs and that narrows the market.

Binks: But everyone ought to ignore spelling and grammar.  We all know that.  Perhaps there will be a law against discrimination on grounds of illiteracy.  That would fit in with Government’s objective of abolishing elitism.

Consultant: The trouble is that most organisations sell internationally to countries which use English as a business language and foreigners tend to write it very accurately.  More formal on the continent, you know.  There would have to be similar laws there too.  It really doesn’t sound imminent.  What about a manual job?

Binks: You must be joking.  I paid £9000 a year for my degree to get a good office job.  Are you saying I was ripped off?

Hopefully the brighter students at the HUWN universities will realise the importance of communication skills and will themselves see to it that theirs are up to scratch.  For the rest, well, the chasm opens before them and they have not got much for their money.  It matters little whether they have mastered the details of some difficult subject because without basic communication skills like grammar and spelling, their knowledge will profit them little.  The world does not belong to those with ideas so much as to those who are capable of expressing them in an accurate and easy to read form.

As always it is those at the bottom who are betrayed.


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