In what our vice-chancellor has called "an extraordinary turn of events", it seems likely that the future of higher education funding in England could be determined by our university's decision on the level of tuition fees to be charged to future undergraduates.
According to well-informed sources, this outcome follows a recent emergency meeting between David Willetts, the universities and science minister, and Vince Cable, the business secretary, to discuss the disturbing news that more and more institutions were announcing fees well above the government's anticipated average of £7,500.
After an extensive discussion of the budgetary implications of this news, Mr Willetts is alleged to have said that the crunch would come when "Poppleton breaks its silence".
He allegedly added: "If a run-down, no-hope, deadbeat place like that goes for anything near £9,000, then we really are up the creek without a paddle."
Our vice-chancellor said he was flattered to learn that our university might play such a key role in the determination of higher education policy. When pressed about Poppleton's possible fees, he said the decision would, like that made at other universities, be based entirely on a meticulous and fully cost-based rational calculation of "what we can get away with".
You can trust me: I'm a governor
"Who on earth is this chap Gillies? Can't say I've ever heard of the bloke." That was the initial response of Sir Hartley Grossman, the managing director of Poppleton Pork Products and the chairman of our governing board, to a report on university governance authored by the vice-chancellor of London Metropolitan University.
Sir Hartley said he took "strong exception" to Professor Gillies' contention that there should be no place on governing bodies for people lacking any knowledge of universities.
He told our reporter, Keith Ponting (30), that what was really important to the role was "a wide experience of life". He believed that this criterion was more than adequately met by himself and his fellow governors: Major T.E. Bunting, formerly of the Poppleton and District Lancers; Mike Chancer, hedge fund manager for the National Investment Bank of Liechtenstein; and Gordon Streetling, chairman of the Poppleton Branch of the Royal Antediluvian Order of Buffaloes.
Sir Hartley cited his own background as proof of the importance of outside experience. "I believe that my primary interest in the manufacture of pork products has provided me with a valuable perspective on an institution that has, over the years, increasingly come to resemble a sausage factory."
Nancy Harbinger, our Deputy Head of Student Experience, has admitted to "serious reservations" about the new National Union of Students charter, which demands that students be entitled to "a personal tutor who should meet them at least once a term".
This was, she said, "unnecessarily bureaucratic" compared with the well-established informal practice at Poppleton of "promoting initiative" by not telling students the name or the location of their personal tutor. She also described the term "meeting" as "regrettably formalistic" when compared with Poppleton's broader concept of "accidentally and occasionally running into each other in a corridor".
Thought for the Week
(contributed by Jennifer Doubleday, Head of Personal Development)
"A little reminder that the government's new Happiness Survey will be taking place on campus this week. At least try to look cheerful."