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Widening access for the well-off, part 2 …

Widening access for the well-off, part 2 …

Following the quickly retracted proposal by the Minister for Higher Education, David Willetts, that ‘home’ students might be able to purchase a place at university ‘off-quota’ by paying fees upfront at the higher overseas rate, the idea has now been taken forward as a private initiative.

A group of academics has announced the formation of a New College of the Humanities. The College claims to offer a ‘new’ model of education, although, in truth, it appears to be very much the same model as that provided by Oxford and Cambridge, albeit at fees of £18,000, which will be twice the price for fewer staff and facilities. The advisory board includes four head teachers from major private schools.

According to its website, the New College of Humanities has the novel idea of a professoriate which will do some teaching; that is, they will provide ‘professorial lectures’! Fourteen leading professors – most also holding positions at other universities, mainly in the United States – have been willing to lend their names to the dubious enterprise. Among them, are AC Grayling, Linda Colley, David Cannadine, Richard Dawkins and Niall Ferguson.

Professor Grayling, Master of the New College, claims that the reason for the new initiative is because of Government cuts to the funding of the humanities and the arts and the likely reduction in the numbers studying such programmes. His logic is flawed. The new regime with fees capped at £9000 provides an increase in resources for those universities able to charge close to the higher fee. Any anticipated cuts in provision are likely to come because of a fall in demand at the higher fee. Yet, Professor Grayling proposes to charge students at the new College twice the maximum fee at other institutions. There will be a bursary system for 20% of the intake, but most of these bursaries will be set at £7,200. Significantly, this is the current estimated cost of a humanities degree (from the HEFCE block grant plus student fee). Truly, the New College for the Humanities will be a ‘for-profit’ provider.

The New College of Humanities promises its students access to the libraries of the publicly-funded Universities of London. The entrance requirements, apart from the ability to pay the fees, are:

  • EITHER passes in two subjects at GCE ‘A’ level + at least three further subjects at GCSE or GCE ‘O’ level (at not less than grade C or a ‘pass’ if taken prior to 1975)
  • OR three subjects at GCE ‘A’ level (with one ‘A’ level at not less than grade D)
  • OR three subjects at GCE ‘A’ level + one further subject at GCSE or GCE ‘O’ level (at not less than grade C)
  • OR two subjects at GCE ‘A’ level + two further subjects at ‘AS’ level.
  1. Incredible. I will make this comment short as I fear I may be charged per word should these top academics read it…

    On that note, quite simply ‘top’ academics do not always make ‘top’ tutors. Can you imagine these chaps getting out a tablet PC and bringing learning to life? Probably not. More of the traditional lecturing whereby students attend but sadly, most switch off.

    The future is not high fee’s, it is more about interactive teaching. I was fortunate enough to be taught at a Russell Group University, but not all the ‘top’ academics realise the potential of interactive teaching.

    I will follow this new university with interest, although I suspect Twitter will be below them, unless there is a subscription related account…hash tag alert: #cynical

  2. This sounds like a Toby Young University, like his ‘free school’ teaching Latin and so forth!

    I can’t see how their students will gain access to London Uni facilities, anymore than any other private college students can.

    Once again, the supposedly ‘most intelligent’ reveal themselves as complete pratts! (Anyway, most of them will be too busy flying about the world to contribute much.)

    I don’t think this one will go far.


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