Students could be paying back their tuition fees well into their fifties, if the latest proposals from university vice-chancellors are put into effect.
Two-thirds of vice-chancellors - speaking anonymously, to make it harder to discern how much money they rake in - are demanding that students' fees be increased to between £7,000 and £20,000 a year. The current limit is £3,500.
"Basically, we've been chucking skips full of cash into Private Finance Initiative schemes on the never-never, plonking down shiny and prestigious new buildings all over our campuses like there's no tomorrow," said one vice-chancellor, hidden behind a Groucho Marx-style false nose and spectacles. "But it's finally dawned on us that there really is no tomorrow, as we have suddenly woken up to the fact that we'll still be paying the property developers for these vast white elephants long after the current bumper crop of Chinese students have completed their studies and gone back home to set up a new generation of universities to meet their country's future requirements."
"We've also got a terrible problem with campuses overrun by ghastly lower-middle-class English thickies," admitted the secret vice-chancellor. "As far as our beloved and highly-profitable overseas students are concerned, these alcohol-sodden loafers just hang around the uni in their Premier-league football shirts, making the place look scruffy. Frankly, these scum would be better off just leaving school and going straight to work in Sainsbury's, which is where they all end up anyway."
"Then we could fill our courses with rich Americans, who are well-accustomed to paying through the nose for what people in this country used to get for free," he added, before heading off for an agreeable round of golf.