New £18,000-a-year Super-University

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A group of leading academics are preparing to launch a private college in London, with the aim of not only challenging Oxford and Cambridge, but making money whilst doing so.

Fourteen professors, including celebrity biologist Richard Dawkins, and historian Sir David Cannadine, are setting up the New College of the Humanities, and plan to take their first students in September 2012. 200 of the brightest undergraduate students will pay £18,000 each in fees to study one of the eight courses on offer. These courses will cover five subject areas- Economics, English Literature, History, Law and Philosophy. Based in Bloomsbury, central London, the college will award its own Diploma to students, whilst their undergraduate BA Hons will be awarded by the University of London.

"New Model of Higher Education"

Professor AC Grayling (pictured above), currently a philosophy tutor at Birkbeck College, London, will be the college's first Master and claims the college offers a "new model of higher education for the humanities in the UK". He revealed:

"Our priorities at the college will be excellent teaching quality, excellent ratios of teachers to students, and a strongly supportive and responsive learning environment. Our students will be challenged to develop as skilled, informed and reflective thinkers, and will receive an education to match that aspiration."

Critics Emerge

However, although only recently announced, the New College of the Humanities already has a number of critics. The head of the University and College Union (UCU) in the UK said that the £18,000 cost of the courses would be a problem:

"While many would love the opportunity to be taught by the likes of AC Grayling and Richard Dawkins, at £18,000 a go it seems it won't be the very brightest but those with the deepest pockets who are afforded the chance."

Similarly, others have accused the college of copying degree courses that are offered at other institutions in London at half the price. A senior historian at Royal Holloway college, Justin Champion, noticed that the titles of modules he created were being exactly copied on the New College website:

"Here we have a whole degree programme being plagiarised. I personally feel quite insulted because I wrote quite a lot of the syllabus. If the University of London didn't exist and public money hadn't been used to draw up these syllabuses, they wouldn't have been able to do this, or they would have had to invest a lot of money."

Ultimately, only time will tell if the New College of the Humanities will be a success of a failure. In ten years time we may look back at it as simply a misguided experiment that was doomed from the start, or possibly as a revolutionary and forward thinking project that many others will come to copy.


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