An even more elitist higher education model

Just what we need

While no one should be surprised at the announcement that there is to be such a thing as the New College of the Humanities, which will offer degrees in Philosophy, Literature, Economics, History and Law, taught in an Oxbridge style at a cost of £18,000 a year, it is imperative that we recognise what this College represents, and what it tells us about the direction that HE is heading in.


….Subjects such as Philosophy are highly desired and in strong demand from students. The New College of the Humanities bears this insight out – AC Grayling, Simon Blackburn, Peter Singer are all part of the ‘Professoriate’ while Ken Gemes and Naomi Goulder turn up in ‘other teaching staff’ (by the way, I suggest an immediate boycott of all members of staff involved in the college, who have clearly abandoned any sense of working for the common good in favour of money). Prospective students of the college are assured that they ‘won’t be just a number’ and that they’ll get weekly one-on-one tutorials. Students of the new college will apparently ‘use many of the resources of the University of London: the exceptional library in Senate House, the University of London Union with its many societies and sports activities’ – how is this even remotely allowed? If you’re going to set up a private college, at least have the decency to buy your own fucking resources. I suggest that current students at the University of London find a way of protesting in the strongest sense against the private use of their resources. And where will the college itself be based? Parasitic-like on the existing buildings of the UoL, paying top dollar for room rental, perhaps?

I’m pretty shocked at the high-profile philosophers involved with this.

16 thoughts on “An even more elitist higher education model

  1. So the aim is to make humanities the purview of elite white males???!! NOOOOO!!!!

  2. This is very sad.

    N.B. Dworkin is part of the ‘professoriate’ too. Shame on him.

  3. Surely, this was made up by the Monty Python troop.

    I hope they enter the classroom with silly walks:

  4. I haven’t yet been able to get into my head the fact that it is happening. It does seem like some sort of joke that one would be foolish to take literally.

    I do realize I am wrong here, but it will take a day or two for it to get absorbed.

  5. <–Clueless American. I read the post, and I *think* I understand the issue. If anyone has the time to correct me if I'm wrong, I'd be grateful.

    This is bad because:
    1) A private univ. is using the buildings of Univ. of London, which is a public university.
    2) The priv. univ. is charging a hefty sum, so this will probably lead to richer people having access to this univ.
    3) Britain in general is cutting back public money for the humanities, so the creation of a private univ. will push the humanities towards being accessible only to (mostly) upperclass Britains.

  6. Singer will probably justify his participation on the grounds that with a higher salary, he will have more money to donate to good causes, but still……

  7. Logoskaieros – yes pretty much. Also, Humanities degrees from Oxbridge are currently favoured very highly – e.g., I have heard that many of the broadsheets want writers who have studied Philosophy, Politics and Economics (yet other universities are responding to cuts by axing humanities department). It’s not implausible to think that a degree from this college which costs twice as much as other university degrees, will carry a great deal of prestige, giving one an advantage when it comes to career. Thus perpetuating class difference.

  8. Professor David Latchman, Master of Birkbeck, today issued the statement:

    Professor Anthony Grayling has resigned from Birkbeck to lead New College of the Humanities. Birkbeck has no links with New College and no agreement to provide New College with access to any of its facilities.

  9. The objections to this idea in the comment cited in the opening post aren’t exactly compelling, and some don’t make any sense. Just for example, if the NSH is going to be paying UL for the use of some facilities, how is the public fisc being ripped off by that? Most of the critiques I’ve seen so far seem to be antipathetic to the idea of allowing private higher education to coexist with public higher education, full stop. At least, the specific objections (e.g. you can’t pass on high startup and operating costs to the actual consumers, apparently, even though you don’t have the option of passing them on to the taxpayer) seem conveniently calculated to ensure that no new private higher educational ventures will succeed.

    What are the best arguments here?

  10. Nemo, I see no evidence that NCH plans to pay for anything. There is no official agreement with UL. Others can speak to this better I expext, but the plans for a UL degree seem to involve some sort of external degree or some such.

  11. JJ, I don’t know what the truth of the matter is, but even the critique quoted in the OP seems to anticipate that money will have to change hands (see last line). The Wikipedia entry for NCH indicates that UL will collect fees in order for NCH students to use UL student facilities, and that NCH will be renting lecture halls. Regardless of whether all the agreements have been signed yet, I think it’s more reasonable to presume – absent specific evidence otherwise – that NCH (either directly, or its students) will be paying for what it/they use and get, simply because that’s the general rule of the marketplace and the contrary would be highly unusual.

    Anyhow, if NCH were really freeloading, the public (and UL students or parents in particular) would have a legitimate objection there, although in that case the criticism would be better directed at UL for forgoing the revenue. But I’ll be surprised if this is actually going to be the case.

    Most of the other critiques of NCH have responded to it as some kind of blasphemy. This suggests to me that the British higher educational system, whatever its failings, has at least successfully managed to foster an ideological orthodoxy as regards itself, of the “Thou shalt have no other gods” variety. You really have to wonder about the worldview of someone who, like the critic from the OP, suggests punishing the NCH faculty because they’ve “clearly abandoned any sense of working for the common good in favour of money.” (In other words, it’s not just blasphemy, it’s apostasy! Extra ecclesiam nulla salus, etc.) If that person’s reaction is at all typical, it’s worth asking how such a reductive notion of the common good, not to mention such a contempt for private autonomy, came to have currency – and what it bodes for the future.

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