Fears that our university may be gaining a reputation for indecisiveness have been increased by the news of another change to our proposed undergraduate tuition fees for next year.
When the new fees were first introduced, our vice-chancellor announced that it would be "appropriate" to opt for the maximum £9,000 a year. This decision, he explained at the time, was based upon "a number of complex factors". Among these was the view that to charge anything less would be to compound the image of Poppleton as a third-rate university.
However, subsequent indications from David Willetts, the universities and science minister, that he would not look favourably upon third-rate universities that chose to charge £9,000 a year led our vice-chancellor, after careful consideration of "a number of other complex factors", to lower our fees to £7,500.
However, subsequent revelations that large numbers of other third-rate universities had chosen to defy Mr Willetts and set their fees at £9,000 prompted a further rethink by our vice-chancellor, who after taking into account "a number of other complex factors" decided to "re-raise" our fees to the initial £9,000.
However, subsequent indications from Mr Willetts that he now favoured a two-tier university system split between AAB-recruiting-£9,000-a-year institutions and £7,500-a-year-low-status underprivileged universities prompted a further rethink of a "number of complex factors" and a "re-reduction" of our fees to £7,500.
However, the subsequent recognition that there were now a relatively large number of underprivileged universities all competing for second-rate students at £7,500 has prompted Poppleton into an undercutting strategy and the announcement this week that fees will now be set at £6,545 per annum.
Our vice-chancellor denied that these several changes constituted evidence of totally unprincipled expedient opportunism. "In the new higher education market economy," he explained, "we have to show the same alertness to changing economic circumstances as is currently displayed by the marketing team at DFS sofas."
We hope this clarifies the situation.
The whole truth
"I'd like to offer a public apology."
That was the thoroughly demeaning response of Doctor Quintock, one of our leading academics, to the suggestion in a letter to Times Higher Education from historian Philip Boobbyer of the University of Kent that universities may have brought some of the current problems in higher education upon their own heads by promoting "postmodern philosophies".
In his statement, Doctor Quintock, from our Department of Media and Cultural Studies, admitted that he had at times in his lectures promoted the postmodern view that there were no universal values or truths. Indeed, he had, on occasions, even suggested that morals might be relative.
He now recognised after reading Doctor Boobbyer's letter that these ideas were profoundly incompatible with the notion of higher education as having any absolute value or truth, and were also liable to produce what the good doctor described as "a loss of the sacred", and to make it "increasingly hard to ask questions about the meaning and purpose of life".
Quintock told The Poppletonian that he now "absolutely regretted" his "lapse into relativism" and intended to withdraw his present course. He also confirmed that he would devote at least part of his forthcoming holiday in Brittany to an intensive search for "at least one or two universal values".
Thought for the week
(contributed by Jennifer Doubleday, Head of Personal Development)
It is with great regret that we learn of the death of Doctor D.K. Stubbins of our Department of English and Related Studies. Doctor Stubbins specialised in the study of the simile. We will not see his like again.