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IdleRich
09-06-2011, 02:29 PM
Haven't seen a thread about this but it's quite a weird/interesting development that seems to have kicked up a storm and pissed off a lot of people. Unsurprisingly as most of these professors seem to be or claim to be on the left but look as though they are going to make some money from ushering in a system of paying for education.
For those who haven't seen:


A new private university in London staffed by some of the world's most famous academics is to offer degrees in the humanities, economics and law from 2012 at a cost of 18,000 a year, double the normal rate.
The Oxbridge-style university college aims to educate a new British elite with compulsory teaching in science literacy, critical thinking, ethics and professional skills on top of degree subjects taught in one-to-one tutorials.
Its first master will be the philosopher AC Grayling, and top teachers from Harvard, Princeton, Oxford and Cambridge will include Richard Dawkins teaching evolutionary biology and science literacy, Niall Ferguson teaching economics and economic history and Steven Pinker teaching philosophy and psychology.
New College of the Humanities, based in Bloomsbury, is being backed by private funding and will aim to make a profit. It will offer some scholarships, with assisted places being granted to one in five of the first 200 students.
Grayling said he was motivated in part by fears that government cuts to university humanities and arts courses could leave "the fabric of society poorer as a result".
"Society needs us to be thoughtful voters, good neighbours, loving parents and responsible citizens," he said. "If we are to discover and inspire the next generation of lawyers, journalists, financiers, politicians, civil servants, writers, artists and teachers, we need to educate to the highest standards and with imagination, breadth and depth."
The college aims to attract candidates with at least three A grades at A-level with the promise of more direct teaching than at traditional universities. The student-teacher ratio will be better than 10 to one and there will be 12 to 13 hours' contact with teachers each week.
Graduates will come away with a degree from the University of London and a separate diploma from the college to reflect the additional course that includes practical professional skills such as financial literacy, teamwork, presentation and strategy.
Other teachers signed up include Sir David Cannadine, a history lecturer at Princeton; Ronald Dworkin QC, a leading constitutional lawyer teaching at University College London and New York University; and Steve Jones, a leading geneticist. Lawrence Krauss, professor of Earth and space exploration and physics at Arizona state university, who has advised Barack Obama on science policy, will teach cosmology and science literacy.
One of the backers is Charles Watson, chairman of the City PR firm Financial Dynamics. He said: "Higher education in the UK must evolve if it is to offer the best quality experience for students and safeguard our future economic and intellectual wealth. New College offers a different model one that brings additional, private sector funding into higher education in the humanities when it is most needed, and combines scholarships and tuition fees."

http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2011/jun/05/new-university-college-humanities-degrees

There seem to be a number of controversies above and beyond the fact that it could be the start of a two-tier education system. Off the top of my head:

1. You get a University of London degree that you can get elsewhere for half the price.
2. They claim to be offering scholarships for the disadvantaged but this seems to be predicated on the idea that the government will give grants up to the first 9k whereas the government say that they won't give any grants to students at universities that charge above the 9k cap.
3. Some of the "star" lecturers are only going to teach for one hour in the first year.
4. The course descriptions for their courses have been copied off the websites of a number of other institutions which are accredited by University of London.

I'm sure there are more things... any thoughts?

Mr. Tea
09-06-2011, 03:48 PM
Isn't it quite likely that employers are just going to look at graduates from this place as rich kids who went there because they couldn't get into Oxbridge/UCL/LSE?

Getting a "University of London" degree is all very well but an employer or another university is obviously going to know which actual college you went to.

IdleRich
09-06-2011, 03:54 PM
Dunno what the entrance requirements are gonna be - presumably at least as high as Oxbridge I guess if they are serious about competing with them. It's small and probably will be attractive so they can be picky.

grizzleb
09-06-2011, 04:10 PM
Grayling is a fanny, he was my personal tutor this year and couldn't be bothered replying to my emails about my meeting him to discuss how I was getting on (we were emailed and told we should arrange meetings with our personal tutors). Hope he treats his new students a bit better than that if they're paying 18k a year.

john eden
09-06-2011, 04:22 PM
I don't give a fuck about this and am amazed at the vitriol and space given over to the reaction against it.

Once you start allowing Universities to charge what they like, this is what will happen. It is inevitable.

For all Dawkins and Grayling's cuddly humanism I don't think they've ever pretended to be raging anti-capitalists.

But having said, that -fuck them anyway.

But also a big "fuck you" to anyone who expects UK Universities to be bastions of fairness and equality in the 21st Century.

Open source free/cheap education FTW.

IdleRich
09-06-2011, 05:05 PM
Is it inevitable? I mean, it's always been the case that a college could set itself up privately and charge money to its students hasn't it? What made it happen now - the fact that "normal" universities are charging already?
I wonder what Grayling's motivation is - surely if it was just money then he could get more from boshing out a book or whatever, but on the other hand it it's just about academic standards it can't be right to charge so much.

baboon2004
09-06-2011, 05:12 PM
Isn't it quite likely that employers are just going to look at graduates from this place as rich kids who went there because they couldn't get into Oxbridge/UCL/LSE?

Getting a "University of London" degree is all very well but an employer or another university is obviously going to know which actual college you went to.

Tbh, some employers probably won't have a fucking clue/won't read the small print, at least when shortlisting.

john eden
09-06-2011, 05:12 PM
Is it inevitable? I mean, it's always been the case that a college could set itself up privately and charge money to its students hasn't it? What made it happen now - the fact that "normal" universities are charging already?
I wonder what Grayling's motivation is - surely if it was just money then he could get more from boshing out a book or whatever, but on the other hand it it's just about academic standards it can't be right to charge so much.

I think he's just spotted a gap in the market, or thinks he has. If people will pay 9 grand then why not double that for a more "exclusive" audience...

baboon2004
09-06-2011, 05:16 PM
I don't give a fuck about this and am amazed at the vitriol and space given over to the reaction against it.

Once you start allowing Universities to charge what they like, this is what will happen. It is inevitable.

For all Dawkins and Grayling's cuddly humanism I don't think they've ever pretended to be raging anti-capitalists.

But having said, that -fuck them anyway.

But also a big "fuck you" to anyone who expects UK Universities to be bastions of fairness and equality in the 21st Century.

Open source free/cheap education FTW.

Agree generally, but isn't there a bit of a descriptive/prescriptive distinction to be made here? I think that a lot of people are (a) not surprised from a pragmatic angle that it's come to this, partic those working within the uni system, but (b) are still outraged/think it shouldn't be happening/shocked at the sheer brazenness of it.

The extent to which (many) employers overrate university degrees is my own personal bugbear. How many impossibly stupid/vapid ppl did I meet who walked out with an Oxbridge degree? A fucking lot....

Mr. Tea
09-06-2011, 05:16 PM
I think John's right, this is just a more explicit case of what's happening (has happened) in higher education generally.

baboon2004
09-06-2011, 05:17 PM
Grayling is a fanny, he was my personal tutor this year and couldn't be bothered replying to my emails about my meeting him to discuss how I was getting on (we were emailed and told we should arrange meetings with our personal tutors). Hope he treats his new students a bit better than that if they're paying 18k a year.

Aren't they getting 1 personal tutorial a week or something, isn't that part of the draw? I got that in the mid-90s for nothing (except living expenses)! Ludicrous.

baboon2004
09-06-2011, 05:18 PM
Anyways, point is that load sof ppl at Uni of London are pissed off because this is muddying the waters between private and public universities, just at a time when loadas of ppl at UoL are being made to reapply for their own jobs/persuaded to take early retirement.

baboon2004
09-06-2011, 05:19 PM
I wonder what Grayling's motivation is - surely if it was just money then he could get more from boshing out a book or whatever, but on the other hand it it's just about academic standards it can't be right to charge so much.

Fame/ego, I should imagine.

IdleRich
09-06-2011, 05:33 PM
I guess a bit of fame, a bit of money and, if all goes according to plan, a few well-educated students. What's not to like? From his point of view at least. I get the impression that the strength of the anger they've encountered has surprised them though. I read the other day that Dawkins had distanced himself from the actual creation of the college on his website but I can't find those remarks on there now. Maybe because he's a shareholder so the remarks are obviously bollocks.

baboon2004
09-06-2011, 05:40 PM
http://www.acgrayling.com/

He has the appearance of an utter twunt too. Case closed.

Slothrop
10-06-2011, 09:45 AM
I wonder what Grayling's motivation is - surely if it was just money then he could get more from boshing out a book or whatever, but on the other hand it it's just about academic standards it can't be right to charge so much.
I'd imagine that it's partly an indirect riposte to the ongoing insinuation throughout the tuition fees debate that while engineering, statistics, biochemistry and so on are useful subjects that do good for the nation, the humanities basically contribute nothing to society apart from a way for thick kids to stay off the dole for three years while watching daytime TV and smoking pot. Creating a prestigious college dedicated specifically to the humanities which will, presumably, have academically able, hard working and well taught alumni going off and doing impressive things with themselves would provide something of a counterpoint to that...

It's interesting that everyone's slating Grayling and Dawkins, though. Is it just taken as read that Niall Ferguson's an odious pissflap?

Mr. Tea
10-06-2011, 01:04 PM
Ignoring the fees aspect for a moment, it kind of makes sense in that London already has several schools/colleges/unis dedicated to other subjects, i.e. Imperial for nat sci, engineering and medicine, LSE for economics and political science, RADA for dramatic arts, SOAS for...OAS, I guess.

Though there's plenty of crossover, of course...wonder how worried LSE, UCL, Birkbeck etc. are about having their best staff poached by the prospect of higher wages?

Edit: I don't know much about Ferguson but that's the second time I've seen him called 'odious' on here...

luka
10-06-2011, 01:09 PM
fereguson is oliver craners favourite historian. i still got an email he snt me which reads 'been reading empire, its well wicked. hes a really cool guy with an interesting spin on things and just knows so many FACTS. totally awesome i really reccomend it.'

Mr. Tea
10-06-2011, 01:18 PM
http://www.dissensus.com/showthread.php?8546-The-odius-Niall-Ferguson-and-his-defence-of-Pinochet (http://www.dissensus.com/showthread.php?8546-The-odius-Niall-Ferguson-and-his-defence-of-Pinochetl)

grizzleb
10-06-2011, 04:28 PM
Niall Ferguson is basically the biggest cunt.

IdleRich
10-06-2011, 07:27 PM
It's interesting that everyone's slating Grayling and Dawkins, though. Is it just taken as read that Niall Ferguson's an odious pissflap?
A lot of the debate does seem to feature people saying things like "Surprised about these guys selling out (except for Ferguson obviously)".

stevied
17-06-2011, 11:06 AM
In case anyone hasn't read it, Terry Eagleton, as ever, in the Guardian has an excellent piece on all of this:

Grayling's scheme is odious (http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/jun/06/ac-graylings-new-private-univerity-is-odious)

Thanks!

IdleRich
17-06-2011, 12:12 PM
I read that at the time and I thought that the way it ended up being a personal attack on Dawkins' and Gralying's academic philosophies rather undermined a few decent points and brought it down from being a matter of principle to a childish spat.

stevied
22-06-2011, 08:14 AM
Rather than a few decent points I think TE tears the NCH to pieces (plus jokes). Thanks!

Slothrop
28-06-2011, 12:55 PM
I'd imagine that it's partly an indirect riposte to the ongoing insinuation throughout the tuition fees debate that while engineering, statistics, biochemistry and so on are useful subjects that do good for the nation, the humanities basically contribute nothing to society apart from a way for thick kids to stay off the dole for three years while watching daytime TV and smoking pot.
Speaking of which:
"The government also wants to see courses that are not valued by employers either scrapped or overhauled."
http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2011/jun/28/university-reforms-dead-end-courses-named-shamed

Remember kids - if it doesn't make money IT HAS NO VALUE!

Mr. Tea
28-06-2011, 01:31 PM
Speaking of which:
"The government also wants to see courses that are not valued by employers either scrapped or overhauled."
http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2011/jun/28/university-reforms-dead-end-courses-named-shamed

Remember kids - if it doesn't make money IT HAS NO VALUE!

Oh fuck it, let's just scrap everything except law, medicine, business studies and graphic design. Oh, and Oxford's PPE course, naturally.

don_quixote
28-06-2011, 10:03 PM
this government is simply unbelievable. who voted these idiots in:mad::mad:

Mr. Tea
28-06-2011, 10:46 PM
this government is simply unbelievable. who voted these idiots in:mad::mad:

The thing is, a Tory govt is obviously going to benefit the very rich and screw over the poorest and most vulnerable, I mean it's a no-brainer. But most people are neither very rich nor very poor, and a huge chunk of this demographic (call it "middle England" if you like, to the extent that that means anything) has been hoodwinked by the right-wing press into believing the Tories represent their best interests too - but clearly, they don't. It'll be interesting to see what happens to Tory support among middle-class/middle-income voters over the next couple of years as they see what happens to the education system (I mean schools, university fees being already a lost cause of course), the NHS, local amenities, the environment (the forest sell-off, anyone?) and even core Conservative issues like police numbers. I mean, what kind of Tory voter wants to see coppers sacked en masse? With high unemployment, benefits being slashed left right and centre and any chance of a university education flying out of the window for many people whose parents aren't loaded, things aren't looking good for crime stats before you even factor in a reduction in police numbers. As ye sow, so shall ye reap...

don_quixote
28-06-2011, 11:12 PM
imagine being a gcse student nowadays; the guy in charge of education has basically said their exams are a doddle, that what they are planning to do next year is not worth it, they won't pay you to do them anymore, and that when they want to go to university they have to pay 9k a year, and they won't be allowed to pick something they enjoy, they will have to do something an employer thinks is worthwhile.

meanwhile baby boomers collect the pensions we are paying for.