University of Autocomplete

With tuition fees so high, it’s never been more important to give prospective students good information about university. This report is the result of a highly sophisticated social media sentiment mining and semantic content analysis, providing summary overviews. Or, in other words, I put “X is” and “X are” in to Google and picked the things that seemed most helpful from the autocomplete list that popped up. (Previous related work explored the geography of the UK, and human nature. It’s also been used as a source of found poetry.)


Here, for the first time, is Autocomplete University: a comprehensive exploration of the collective Internet view of the university is all its component parts. Universities did reasonably well when this methodology was applied to US States. Sadly, things don’t look quite so rosy for universities themselves. The study found: “The academy is almost here. Academics are jerks.”. There’s a mixed picture for students: “undergraduates are miserable”, but on the other hand “graduates are prepared for the world of work”. Some highlights:

  • Classics is a good degree. Classicists are smart.
  • Biology is destiny. Biologists create zombie cells. Genetics is not an excuse.
  • Psychology is bullshit. Psychologists are least likely to suggest that.
  • Linguistics is hard. Linguists are hot.
  • Dentistry is a bad career. Dentists are sadists.
  • Librarians are hiding something: Library is no longer working.
  • VCs are liars. VCs are not your friends.
  • Research is the door to tomorrow. Door is stuck.
  • Web pages are not responding. Forums are full of idiots. Instant messaging is available only from AOL.

Without further ado, here is the complete report.

Faculty of Arts

  • Classics is a good degree. Classicists are smart.
  • Art history is not linear. Art historians are using a process.
  • Music is my drug. Musicians are so much sexier.
  • Religion is the opium of the masses. Religious students do better school.
  • Theology is eminently practical. Theologians are idiots.
  • Philosophers are the smartest. Philosophy is a waste of time.
  • Geography is easy. Geographers are most interested in analyzing.
  • Design is kinky. Graphic designers are ruining the web.
  • English is tough stuff. English literature is pointless. English graduates are not proficient in english language.
  • History is a lie. Historians are past caring.
  • Architects are pretentious. Architecture is frozen music.
  • Archaeology is a brand. Archaeologists are wrong.
  • Planning is an unnatural process. Planners are coming.
  • Creative writing is purely an emotional outlet.

Faculty of Science and Maths

  • Physics is beautiful. Physicists are arrogant.
  • Chemistry is hard. Chemists are scientists that mainly study.
  • Biology is destiny. Biologists create zombie cells. Genetics is not an excuse.
  • Geology is not a real science. Geologists are reasonably convinced that earth is.
  • Ecologists are male chauvinist pigs. Environmental science is helpful to conservation biology. Conservation biology is a crisis discipline.
  • Climate science is settled. Climate scientists are so perturbed.
  • Computer science is not a science. Computer scientists are loners.
  • Mathematics is not a spectator sport. Mathematicians are people too. Applied mathematics is bad mathematics. Pure mathematics is useless.
  • Statistics is or are. Statisticians are the new vampires.

Faculty of Social Science

  • Psychology is bullshit. Psychologists are least likely to suggest that.
  • Economics is what economists do. Economists are useless.
  • Anthropology is not ethnography. Anthropologists suggest cannibalism is a myth.
  • Ethnography is a mere story telling. Ethnographers are overt about their roles.
  • Sociology is a martial art. Sociologists are encouraged to practice.
  • Politics is the art of the possible. Political scientists are lousy forecasters.
  • Law is reason free from passion. Lawyers are scum.
  • French is a horrible language. German is easy. Spanish is the loving tongue. Chinese is not a language. Japanese is possible. Mandarin is easy. Hindi is not the national language of India. Arabic is the mother of all languages. Portuguese is Latin. Bengali is the sweetest language. Russian is tank.
  • Linguistics is hard. Linguists are hot.

Faculty of Engineering and

  • Engineering is elementary. Engineers are cold and dead inside.
  • Chemical engineers are the highest paid. Chemical engineering is too hard.
  • Civil engineering is easy. Civil engineers are stupid.
  • Electrical engineers are weird. Electrical engineering is boring. (But for boring, see civil engineers.)
  • Mechanical engineering is the mother of engineering. Mechanical engineers are the best.
  • Nuclear engineering, is it hard. Nuclear engineers are there.
  • Materials science – what is stress. Materials scientists are considered to be modern.
  • Technology is taking over. Technologists are not engineers.
  • Software engineering is a dead-end career. Software engineers are not real engineers.

Faculty of Business

  • Business is booming. Business students are dumb. Business studies is crap.
  • Management is (still) not leadership. Management scientists are human.
  • MBA is useless. MBAs are worthless.
  • Accounting is fascinating. Accountants are rich.
  • Marketing is violence. Marketers are from Mars.
  • Finance is fun. Financiers are without patriotism.

Faculty of Education

  • Education is the key to success. Educators are heroes.
  • Teacher training is panned.
  • Children are unbeatable. Children can see ghosts.
  • School is pointless. Teachers are lazy. Head teacher is a bully. Schools are like prisons.

Faculty of Health and Social Care

  • Nursing is too stressful. Nurses are great.
  • Social work is not a profession. Social workers are scum.
  • Sports science is bullshit.

Faculty of Medicine

  • Medicine is overrated. Doctors are dangerous.
  • Anatomy is destiny. Physiology is the study of the body’s.
  • Pharmacy is a dying profession. Pharmacists are useless.
  • Pharmacology is about to pay a dividend.
  • Nutrition is everything. Nutritionists are quacks.
  • Physiotherapy is a waste of time. Physiotherapists are doctors.
  • Radiology is the best specialism. Radiologists are parasites.
  • Pathology is characteristic of osteoarthritis. Pathologists are groovy.
  • Dentistry is a bad career. Dentists are sadists.

[A full report on Autocomplete Hospital may follow in a subsequent publication.]

Central Administration

  • VCs are liars. VCs are not your friends.
  • Principals have more power. Principals are stupid.
  • Presidents are related. Presidents are puppets.
  • PVC is not a good adhesive. PVCs are benign.
  • Secretary is doing extra hours. Secretariat is buried.
  • Administration is magic. Administrators are idiots. The adminstration has increased the number of fines.
  • Registry is corrupt. Registrars are teachers too. The current registrar has rejected transfer.
  • HR is evil.
  • Admissions are limited to verbal statements. UCAS is so stressful. Applicants are shortlisted. Decisions are taken at the margin. Results are skewed.

Finance Department

  • Salaries are deferred. Payroll is an expense. Pensions are a Ponzi scheme.
  • Expenses are greater than revenue. Balance sheet is not balancing. Bank account is overdrawn. Income is nil. Funding is pending. Spending is out of control. Cost control is the key to survival. Bad debts are written off. Creditors are harassing me.
  • Endowments are not safety valves. Investment is at risk. How investment income is taxed. Taxes are too damn high.
  • Alumni are important. Donors are needed. Donations are greatly appreciated. Giving is all we have.
  • Bursar in the hip joint. CFO is not responsible for. Auditors are necessary evil. Fraud is hard to prove.


  • Maintenance is expensive. Repairs are affected.
  • Rooms are all on fire. Buildings for sale. Buildings are amortized and trademarks are depreciated. Labs are the best dogs.
  • Accommodation is said to occur when a child. Halls are made for madness. Staff housing in Nunavut.
  • Heating is on but radiators are cold. Windows are wet on the inside. Ceiling is wet and brown stained. Walls are coming down. Air conditioning is not cooling. Taps are leaking. Toilets are backed up.
  • Security is lax. ID cards are bad. Access is denied.
  • Timetable is packed. Bookings are not allowed at this time.
  • Lawn is mostly moss. Plants are drooping. Shrubs are turning brown. Paths are made by walking.


  • Cars are a waste of money. Parking is never permitted. Roads are wicked slippery. The only way in is out. Traffic is backed up. Drivers are rude such attitudes.
  • Public transport is unreliable. Buses are cancelled.
  • Cycles are irregular.
  • Hovercraft is full of eels.

Student life and support

  • Orientation is fluid. Fresher’s week is an education in commercialism.
  • Social life is overrated. Clubs are boring. Bars are depressing. Student union in Nepal.
  • Student politics is so vicious.
  • Sport is made for betting. Football is fixed. Athletics is singular or plural. Swimming pool is cloudy.
  • Careers are overrated. Chaplains are useless. Counselling is not working. Health service is not available.
  • Librarians are hiding something: Library is no longer working.
  • Catering is good. Restaurants are a waste of money. Food is stuck in my throat. Menus are invisible. Bacteria are ubiquitous. Food poisoning is the worst.

Information Technology, Computing Service and AV

  • IT is on. IT support interview questions.
  • System.admin.account.queue is full.
  • Computers are evil.
  • Desktop computers are dying. Laptops are dead. Tablets are toys. Smartphones are useless.
  • Software is provided as is. Applications are now closed.
  • Information security is everyone’s responsibility. Hacking is easy. Security is an illusion.
  • Network is unavailable. Malware is blocking internet access. Wifi is greyed out.
  • Websites are not loading. Email is sending spam. Shared folders are not accessible.
  • Word files are not opening. Powerpoint files are corrupted. Excel workbook is protected and cannot be changed.
  • Enterprise software is boring. Document management issues. Metadata is missing. Files are hidden due to virus. Sharepoint is awful. Alfresco is very slow. SAP Portal is very slow. Zoho is down. Documentum is dead. Lotus Notes is the worst.
  • Cloud storage is stupid. Dropbox is not syncing. iCloud is greyed out. SkyDrive is not working. Google Drive is terrible.
  • Sound quality is bad. Microphone is not working. Amplification is the vice of modern oratory.
  • Projectors are awesome. Image is everything. Display is upside down.

Teaching and learning

  • Teaching is too stressful. Teaching assistants are useless. Tutors are bad. Academics are jerks. Lecturers are lazy. Professors are idiots. (Readers are leaders. Chairs are bad for you.)
  • Lectures are outdated. Seminars are useless. Labs are stupid. Practical work in Microsoft Word. Workshop is not for you. Supervision is not as cool as it sounds.
  • Essays are pointless. Experiments are designed to test. Problems are unmet needs. Exams are life ruiners.
  • Assessment is for learning. Results are negative. Degree classification is unfair to many students.
  • Scholarship is the enemy of romance. Scholarship is taxable.
  • Learning outcomes are corrosive.

Research office

  • Research is the door to tomorrow. Door is stuck.
  • Funding is important. Grants are free money. Ethics are relative.
  • Metrics are bunk. Open access is denied.
  • FEC is stalled on election rules.
  • REF is system generated. Impact is imminent. Environment is ruined by greed.

Educational technology

  • Educational technology is not enough. Staff training in Tesco. Expertise is domain specific. Tech support is disabled by administrator.
  • Instructional design is dead.
  • Ebooks are evil. Podcasts are not updating in iTunes. Apps are disabled on this site.
  • MOOCs are moving forward. Innovation is key. New ideas are first ridiculed. (Ridicule is nothing to be scared of.) Change is gonna come. New technology is bad.
  • LMS is dead. VLE is undead.
  • Online learning is bad. Blackboard is terrible. Moodle is crap. Desire2Learn is down. eCollege is down. Sakai is awful. Canvas is the new black.
  • Web pages are not responding. Forums are full of idiots. Instant messaging is available only from AOL.
  • Whiteboards are remarkable.

[Footnote on methodology: Google autocomplete suggestions vary by device, browser and user. These were harvested from multiple sources.]

This work by Doug Clow is copyright but licenced under a Creative Commons BY Licence. No further permission needed to reuse or remix (with attribution), but it’s nice to be notified if you do use it.

Author: dougclow

Data scientist, tutxor, project leader, researcher, analyst, teacher, developer, educational technologist, online learning expert, and manager. I particularly enjoy rapidly appraising new-to-me contexts, and mediating between highly technical specialisms and others, from ordinary users to senior management. After 20 years at the OU as an academic, I am now a self-employed consultant, building on my skills and experience in working with people, technology, data science, and artificial intelligence, in a wide range of contexts and industries.

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