Anger over ‘celebrity’ private University

27 June 2011

Celebrity academics Richard Dawkins and A.C. Grayling (pictured above) are leading the lineup to create a private £18,000 a year University.

The initiative, which has since been joined by Steven Pinker and Niall Ferguson, will set up a US-style elite college, called New College. It is intended to act as a rival to Oxford and Cambridge education.

Inspired in part by the business model of American Ivy League universities where $40,000 (£24,000) annual fees are not unusual, New College will cost double the maximum tuition fee allowed in government-funded universities.

It is set up to deliver a profit to its shareholders who include the professors and a team of wealthy businessmen who have financed the plan.

The college will teach humanities subjects such as English, philosophy, history, economics and law which will be taught by academics from Harvard, Princeton, Oxford and Cambridge.

However, Cambridge University Students’ Union PresidentRahul Mansigani commented: “Privatised universities are a worrying development as a response to the government’s damaging higher education policy, particularly in relation to funding for the arts and humanities.

Whilst the NCH claims to offer an education to rival Oxbridge, the great strength of our universities lies not only in their teaching but their breadth and research work.

“Furthermore, fees of £18,000 a year at a private institution will almost certainly deter or exclude people on the basis of their ability to pay. UK universities may have something to learn from the mixed curricula and flexibility of US liberal arts colleges, and we must be able to ensure that all bright and able candidates have access to the challenging university education they deserve, but I think this is a deeply unconstructive way of achieving this.”

Eleanor Dickinson – Deputy News Editor

Photo Credit: BarryLB