If you’re an egalitarian, how come you’re trying to sell an undergraduate arts degree that costs more than an MBA?

by Daniel on June 6, 2011

… is a question that might be asked of Professor AC Grayling, the media don and pundit who has launched the “New College Of The Humanities, and who is proposing to charge undergraduates £18,000 per year for three years (by way of comparison, an MBA from the London Business School will set you back £49,900 for the full two year course). Further thoughts on whether this represents simple value-for-money, let alone a brand new direction for the world, below the fold.

The reporting, as always, has left quite a bit to be desired for detail-oriented financial types like me, but it is possible to piece things together. Although the “Who We Are” page mentions a registered charity number, this is actually only referring to the New College Of The Humanities Trust, a newly formed charity which has the object of providing scholarships to the NCH. The actual thing, per its Terms and Conditions page, is “New College of the Humanities Limited”, a company which was incorporated a year ago and which (in my opinion, slightly amusingly) was previously called “Grayling Hall Limited”. It’s a private limited company which has apparently raised £10m from a small group of investors. NCH Ltd (although it will always be “Grayling Hall” to me) hasn’t produced any accounts yet because it’s new, but if it’s raising ten million quid it is unlikely to qualify for any exemptions and so in the fullness of time it will be providing us with full accounts, including, excitingly, the salaries of its directors. What larks!

Meanwhile, in terms of the educational experience, much has been made of the presence of Richard Dawkins, Niall Ferguson, Stephen Pinker, etc etc on the “professoriate” and indeed a lot of the press commentary appears to have inadvertently implied that these academic megastars will be doing the teaching. But, sharp cookies will have noted, none of them appear to have resigned from their existing posts or given any notice that they intend to do so, despite the fact that NCH is planning on getting the first bums on seats in Autumn 2012. In fact, close perusal of the fine print reveals that what the “Professoriate” are going to be providing is lecture courses, and the actual syllabus delivery will come from a staff “to be recruited”; given that the “Subject Convenors” seem to me to be fairly normal middle-ranking UK profs, I would guess that the teaching will also come from the middle ranks of the British academic proleteriat. (Just by way of comparison, when I did my MSc at London Business School, I was actually taught by Paul Marsh, Dick Brealey, Paul Geroski et al; there were PhD students teaching mathematical “boot-camp” style classes but for the most part the research staff were right out in front of the paying punters).

It’s also somewhat opaque to me how NCH is going to go about awarding University of London degrees (although to be frank, this is not particular to Grayling Hall – lots of things to do with the governance of the University of London are difficult to understand and this has caused problems in the past). I haven’t seen any announcement that the NCH has become a college of the UoL, and so I don’t think it has or plans to (it is going to be awarding a “diploma” of its own in things like “business skills” and other such&such, which to me implies that it isn’t intending to seek degree-granting status in its own right). This earlier Wikipedia edit (from a newly created Wikipedia account) seems to suggest that it will be offering units of the “University of London International Programmes”, which seems possible, although in the absence of a specific statement from NCH it’s hard to tell exactly what’s going on. Not being an academic, I’ve no real feel for how much of a task it might be to create five or six brand new undergraduate syllabi from scratch, but given that the teaching staff consists currently of three “Convenors” and a bunch of vacancies, it would seem reasonable to me to assume that considerable use might be made of off-the-peg material in the first few years at least.

So who would this appeal to? The answer “people with significantly more money than sense” comes to mind. The prospectus is all about “Oxford, Cambridge this, Ivy League that”, but the actual educational offering appears to be more like an attempt to recreate the American concept of the liberal arts college education. And when I say “liberal arts college education”, the phrase “liberal arts college” is meant to convey the impression “eyeball-searingly overpriced”. Brian Weatherson pointed out to me on Twitter that Oberlin College in America has a schedule of fees that can rack up $200k (ie, the cost of slightly less than three world-class MBA courses) for an undergraduate tuition. This thing, if it has any chance of paying a return on the money invested, is going to be targeted at the seriously rich – probably the international rich – and it is not going to be made appreciably more egalitarian by the proposed scholarship grants.

Of course, the proprietors don’t actually need there to be lots and lots of people prepared to pay that kind of money for the chance to touch the hem of a media don’s robe – they just need there to be enough such people to meet the running costs plus profit. Chris said, when the state sector tuition fees went up, that “ Personally, I’m appalled by the prospect of teaching the finer points of egalitarian justice in an elite institution to the children of the wealthy who will then go on to high-paid jobs in the financial sector, whilst higher education as a whole contracts and access to the arts and humanities is reduced in an increasingly unequal society“; apparently AC Grayling (and Ronald Dworkin, ye gods) have different tastes or stronger stomachs.

Update: What a way to make a living. Applications coaching for Grayling Hall?

{ 184 comments }

1

Chris Armstrong 06.06.11 at 9:02 am

They’re talking about recruiting 200 students in the first cohort, but at that price I would have thought that even those who could afford it would be pretty cautious. I’m not sure I’d want to pay fifty grand to a college which, as Daniel notes, is not promising that I’m going to get to really interact with the high-profile but probably very part-time professors who have signed up so far. And if I were thinking of graduate study elsewhere afterwards (it would have to be elsewhere; they’re not doing anything PG yet), I’d want to be very sure that my BA was going to be looked upon favourably, rather than looked at askance by people elsewhere in the profession who may be ill-disposed towards the project in the first place.

But yes, as Daniel notes, the real question is whether I’d want to study, or teach, at a university where eighty percent of the students were there because they were able to come up with such large sums of money upfront.

2

ajay 06.06.11 at 9:03 am

Just to play devil’s advocate, it seems that you could make a very good egalitarian case for an institution which is intended to take £54k a head off the sons and daughters of the very rich and pass it on to “the middle ranks of the British academic proleteriat”…

3

SimonW 06.06.11 at 9:21 am

If you compare the courses detailed in the external system prospectus with those on the web-site (at least for history – I’ve not checked the others), then the degrees do seem to be ‘off the shelf’.

4

Richard J 06.06.11 at 9:32 am

the fullness of time it will be providing us with full accounts, including, excitingly, the salaries of its directors. What larks!

Pedantic point: As a private company, disclosure should be limited to the aggregate remuneration and specific disclosure of the (unnamed) highest paid director.

(Checking this has led me to discover that one of the directors of Pret A Manger made a cool million last year.)

5

Andrew Fisher 06.06.11 at 9:34 am

Just to say, this is the post I wish I had written on this issue.

6

Chris Bertram 06.06.11 at 9:42 am

Two points: I think the students will have to be registered as “external students” of the UoL. So this is just a preparatory school for UoL exams with some extra goodies (a few extra courses, lots of contact time, occasional contact with some of the most self-regarding and over-rated people in the academic world). I think other private colleges already perform this role (Kensington something or other?) but at much lower cost.

Grayling is an owner of the company, trustee of the charitable trust and head of the academic side, all at once. It has been suggested to me that the academic side is insulated from the finance side, but, given Grayling is everywhere, that can’t be.

Oh, and third point, I used Wikipedia to look up the dates of birth of the “Professoriate” yesterday. These are

Grayling 1949
Blackburn – 1944
Cannadine – 1950
Colley – 1949
Dasgupta – 1942
Dawkins 1941
Dworkin 1931
Ferguson 1964
Pinker 1954
Jones 1944
Krauss 1954
Ricks 1933
Singer 1946
Zuckerman no date available, but clearly no spring chicken.

7

Richard J 06.06.11 at 9:42 am

Skimming through the docs on Companies House (with the IANAL disclaimer, but my job gives me familiarity with what this sort of thing looks like) kind of backs up the commercial nature of this. The articles are obsessed with drag along and tag along rights, calls, etc. – the kind of thing you’d see in a private equity-focussed SPV, basically, rather than an educational institution’s articles, which would be more focused on stability and transparency for its (gnargh) stakeholders.

AC Grayling’s middle name is Clifford, BTW.

8

Jonathan M 06.06.11 at 9:44 am

The University of London’s philosophy programme is quite unique in so far as students at the various colleges share lecturers (and sometimes even tutors). I was a part of the University of London philosophy programme for six years and at no point in those 6 years did AC Grayling lecture despite being on staff at Birkbeck.

Based on that alone, I would think twice about signing up to the New College of the Humanities on the basis of name recognition as I suspect that the truth is that, as with most universities, the real teaching will be done by underpaid postgrads with no job security.

9

Chris Bertram 06.06.11 at 9:44 am

And ajay: a similar “egalitarian” case could be made for providing poor East European prostitutes to wealthy City bankers, but no egalitarian is going to make it. Sometimes playing “devil’s advocate” just is trolling.

10

Chris Bertram 06.06.11 at 9:48 am

Ooh. Followed Daniel’s link on the money:

“In 2004, he joined Icelandic investment bank Kaupthing to help establish its acquisitions and leveraged finance business in the UK.” Seems to have moved on some time around 2008 ….

11

Michael Mouse 06.06.11 at 9:50 am

Can’t believe that you missed the other obvious LOL from a quick Companies House lookup of New College of the Humanities Ltd: the registered offices are 15 Glengall Road, London SE15 6NJ. The press guff is all about the wonders of academic Bloomsbury. But unless I’m misunderstanding my metropolitan geography, that address is actually Peckham – famously home to exciting get-rich-quick schemes.

So who would this appeal to? The answer “people with significantly more money than sense comes to mind”

I’d slightly amend that to “people with significantly more money than academic ability”. Otherwise you could get the Oxbridge cachet by … going to an actual Oxbridge college.

12

Ciarán 06.06.11 at 9:55 am

Also Skimming the Companies House documents (I don’t know what Richard J’s excuse is, but I’m avoiding essay marking) I think I see the reasoning behind the Grayling Hall name: the second proposer at the incorporation of the limited company was one Peter Hall.

My guess is that Hall is the chair of Hunter Hall, an Australian ethical investment fund that has its London office at the same Frith Street Address that was registered as the NCH’s/ Grayling Hall’s first headquarters. What can I say: these essays are really exciting.

Hall is the author of this fun essay on how we need to be nicer to the environment. Hanging out with ethical investment fund types: I don’t know if this makes Grayling Rawlsian, or Gerry Cohenian or, you know, neither.

13

Richard J 06.06.11 at 9:56 am

Chris> One of Kaupthing’s specialities in the UK (which I think came from the guys they acquired, whose name escapes me) was financing small scale PE deals of this sort of size[1]; it’s amusing in retrospect, true, but the background is a good fit.

[1] Not that £5-£10m is chicken feed absolutely, but relative to some of the sums floating about the place back until 2008…

14

SalMGarcia 06.06.11 at 9:57 am

The ethics of this, in an predominantly public system, is like the ethics of setting up private hospitals in a public health system. You cream the training and practices from the public sector, and use these to get substance and free training for the private sector.

There is nothing egalitarian about that kind of leaching of resources.

15

dsquared 06.06.11 at 10:00 am

So this is just a preparatory school for UoL exams with some extra goodies

While doing research, I came across this little number, which is really quite explicit about its status as a “back door” into UoL (and even the London School of Economics, which despite Satoshi Kanazawa and Saif Qaddafi, I still thought meant something) for people without the grades.

I’d slightly amend that to “people with significantly more money than academic ability”. Otherwise you could get the Oxbridge cachet by … going to an actual Oxbridge college.

You need a lot of luck and/or social capital as well as academic ability for ye Oxbridge. But you can certainly get the cachet of a for-profit feeder college of UoL for a lot cheaper than £54k.

16

dsquared 06.06.11 at 10:02 am

a similar “egalitarian” case could be made for providing poor East European prostitutes to wealthy City bankers

I can see you’ve been giving at least a little bit of idle thought to the content of the “applied ethics” part of the diploma Chris …!

an institution which is intended to take £54k a head off the sons and daughters of the very rich and pass it on to “the middle ranks of the British academic proleteriat”…

NCH is not such an institution – the corporate charter is pretty clear about the fact that they are planning on keeping the munn for themselves, possibly to spend on sweets.

17

Oliver 06.06.11 at 10:15 am

This is an object lesson in how over-pricing will ruin your brand. Employers will look at Grayling Hall graduates and think “You’re dim. You paid £54k for an Oxbridge-style degree. If you were smart, you could have bought the real thing for “only” (ha) £27k. So I’m not going to hire you.”

Any half-savvy prospective student will figure out that that is how employers will react to GH alumni, so won’t apply. Grayling Hall’s pricing policy guarantees that only thickos will attend.

By the way, counter-example of Oberlin notwithstanding, this reasoning suggests why Ivy League universities have an incentive not to be too far out of line with one another in the fees they charge. (Not suggesting this is the only explanation, obviously).

@ MichaeMouse; trading address and registered business address don’t have to be the same.

18

ajay 06.06.11 at 10:25 am

Sometimes playing “devil’s advocate” just is trolling.

Obviously I should have made it even clearer that I was joking…

19

Sam Dodsworth 06.06.11 at 10:36 am

Meanwhile, I note that Bloomsbury is a bit of a node for student activism in London and that the “Emergency meeting to oppose the New College of the Humanities” this evening has 200+ attendees listed on Facebook and has already had to shift to a bigger room.

20

deliasmith 06.06.11 at 10:38 am

This is the trouble with Richard Dawkins – the students won’t have so much as a Biology A-level between the lot of them, nor, I assume, will there any science facilities in the college (will there actually be a building?), so “evolution” will be treated as a rhetorical subject, instead of an empirical, quantitative one. A thing on its own rather than an integral part of biology.

21

Neville Morley 06.06.11 at 10:39 am

Over on the THES I remarked on the superior academic and social credibility of Jamie’s Dream School, and pointed people towards this interesting discussion. The comment has now disappeared; I don’t know if they objected to the snark, or to someone promoting the competition…

22

belle le triste 06.06.11 at 10:41 am

Science facilities: a cupboard full of butterfly nets.

23

ajay 06.06.11 at 10:46 am

Reminds me of the joke about the physics don trying to get funding: “You want £5 million of a high-voltage power source? Why can’t you be more like the mathematicians? All they ever ask me for is pencils, paper and wastepaper baskets! Or the philosophers? All they ever ask for is pencils and paper!”

24

dsquared 06.06.11 at 10:57 am

so “evolution” will be treated as a rhetorical subject, instead of an empirical, quantitative one. A thing on its own rather than an integral part of biology.

I think it will be treated as an integral part of “Atheism, Rationalism and Why All Those People Are Dumb”. Actually, given the presence of Grayling at the top, I wonder a) how this humanities education will deal with the considerable amount of the humanities which have a religious element and b) how long it will take them to run into a religious discrimination lawsuit of some kind or other.

25

JP Stormcrow 06.06.11 at 11:05 am

Brian Weatherson pointed out to me on Twitter that Oberlin College in America has a schedule of fees that can rack up $200k (ie, the cost of slightly less than three world-class MBA courses) for an undergraduate tuition.

Just to note that in the context of American Liberal Arts colleges Oberlin is certainly not an outlier, most every LA college that considers itself “first tier” (very broadly construed) has basically the same fee structure (within =/- 10%). As does nearly every private research university (here’s CMU, for instance, ringing in at $57,520/yr for the coming year and a 2009-10 list showing about 150 schools between $45K & $55K ). Of course, who exactly pays what is a very different thing (whether via financial aid or “merit” scholarships) and varies quite a bit from place to place. Depending on how far into the “merit” scholarship game a place is and its ability to meet financial need, 40-80% of the undergrads will be getting some kind of help, with a fair chunk getting quite substantial aid (half or more of the costs). Not that it changes the basic point.

26

JP Stormcrow 06.06.11 at 11:21 am

this reasoning suggests why Ivy League universities have an incentive not to be too far out of line with one another in the fees they charge.

And per the link in my post this phenomenon holds for “list” price* much more broadly (CMU was 15th in 2010, Oberlin 45th). Price differentiation/competition is more indirect among the 150 or so; the “lower-ranked” places come in with an increasing share of “merit” scholarships to attract the better students, while the most competitive (and generally the wealthiest) usually meet a bigger share of calculated financial need.

*Not sure how to best describe the whole thing in economic terms , clearly it involves some level of signalling and perception of a positional good.

27

Chris Bertram 06.06.11 at 11:39 am

JP Stormcrow @25

Your basic point still holds, but the table you link to is “total cost of attendance” rather than “fees”, clicking through to the detailed info, they seem to be at around the $35k level.

28

Bill Benzon 06.06.11 at 11:43 am

In fact, close perusal of the fine print reveals that what the “Professoriate” are going to be providing is lecture courses . . .

Via the interwebs, no doubt. Will those lecture courses be exclusive to this venture or will anyone with a reasonable internet connection be able to view these lectures?

29

P O'Neill 06.06.11 at 11:50 am

The business model may have more to do with the thinking that “if we can attract a few basis points of the amount that ultra-rich foreigners spend on London property ….”

30

Richard J 06.06.11 at 11:57 am

“The business model may have more to do with the thinking that “if we can attract a few basis points of the amount that ultra-rich foreigners spend on London property ….”

Datum: Meeting with London office of large family-owned foreign business. “Oh, [Patriarch]‘s son is studying at University College London. I believe his father bought him a million-pound apartment in South London to live in for the duration of the course.”

31

Jed 06.06.11 at 12:05 pm

Once again Dworkin’s hypocrisy makes me laugh. How many £1000′s will he be getting per lecture to take home to his townhouse in Sloane Square? I’ more shocked by Singer. Blackburn/Grayling etc just as retirement age and wnat some extra cash no?

32

praisegod barebones 06.06.11 at 12:11 pm

Bill Benzon @ 28:

That seems like a terrible waste of perfectly good electrons.

33

dsquared 06.06.11 at 12:14 pm

BTW, I think Chris’s point on conflict of interest is totally right – the admissions process is completely opaque and based on subjective interviews, the only hard academic limits are the UoL minimum admission criteria, and the admissions tutors have not been appointed. Having the academic and financial management intertwined like this looks like a predictable source of conflicts.

We don’t use the Clearing process, but we are open to applications until our places are full, so you can apply to us during Clearing. Clearing starts immediately after A-level results are released in mid-August. We run a course vacancy hotline and online enquiry system throughout the Clearing period so you can easily contact us.

That, presumably, is how they’re planning on picking up a load of last-minute business.

34

Peter 06.06.11 at 12:24 pm

I wonder to what extent this is a play for the foreign student market? Big names, fees at about the level they pay elsewhere, ideal subjects for scions of the kleptocracy.

35

Adrian 06.06.11 at 12:30 pm

Ajay #18, you may have been joking, but it looks like Grayling is serious about counting “selling things to rich people” as redistribution, based on this quote:

By teaming up with some of the London University institutions, such as the library and perhaps Birkbeck, we’re channeling a bit of very-much-needed money into those institutions to help keep them going and viable. It would be the shortest-sighted policy imaginable to boycott redistribution of resources by this means just because it doesn’t come direct from Mr Willetts himself.

http://anticuts.com/2011/06/05/the-new-privatised-order-18k-and-a-lecture-from-niall-ferguson/

36

sg 06.06.11 at 12:45 pm

There’s even real-snow skiing less than 30 minutes away by train.

Where is that? 30 minutes from London you can do real-snow skiing?

37

Kieran Healy 06.06.11 at 12:50 pm

30 minutes from London you can do real-snow skiing?

Via Heathrow, yeah.

38

JP Stormcrow 06.06.11 at 12:53 pm

CB@27: but the table you link to is “total cost of attendance” rather than “fees”, clicking through to the detailed info, they seem to be at around the $35k level.

Yes, a bit sloppy of me, although by that measure then Oberlin (or CMU) like the others is in the $150k range for 4 years rather than $200k. I do agree with dsquared that the program seems to be a move in the direction of a US liberal arts education.

39

Nababov 06.06.11 at 12:53 pm

Oh c’mon squire, a quick geek around NCH’s website makes it clear it’s a class act.

“…offers education in excellence…”

and

“Your study will guide you to a wide range of writing as well as an appreciation of the questions raised by literature old and new. You will develop skills of writing, argument, analysis and persuasion.”

Persuaded of me.

40

Sam Dodsworth 06.06.11 at 1:04 pm

30 minutes from London you can do real-snow skiing?

There’s an indoor real-snow ski slope somewhere outside Milton Keynes. A train from London Euston to Milton Keynes Central takes 30 minutes. So “true” for estate-agent levels of truth, anyway.

41

Harry 06.06.11 at 1:12 pm

Just two friendly amendments to the JP Stormcrow/DD point about emulating a US SLAC education.
1) in fact at the elite SLACs very few people pay the sticker price: for most tuition is discounted, and for many it is discounted heavily (simple example — kid I know who is smart and accomplished, highish income parents, but not admitted to any of the top tier schools she applied to had 4 offers from good but not great SLACs, each costing around what UW Madison would cost, around $18k a year tuition plus living expenses, despite each having sticker price in excess of $25k tuition alone). I see no prospect of Grayling Hall offering such discounts.

2) Are they trying to tap the “junior year abroad” american market? Regardless, this does not look like an attempt to enter the UK undergraduate market.

I’m old enough to have been at UofL when Grayling actually did teach there (Bedford, which closed down while I was there) and, annoyingly in the light of all this and other things we know about him, he was a spectacularly good lecturer (clear, accurate, unfussy, clearly capable of being charismatic but didn’t use that to impress, etc). He wasn’t ever my tutor, but those whom he did tutor spoke very highly of his attentiveness and feedback.

42

NickInNeuch 06.06.11 at 1:18 pm

Re #40: yes, they must be referring to Milton Keynes. Which prompted the thought, is there a move afoot to privatize and asset-strip the OU? It would seem to be in tune with the times.

43

dsquared 06.06.11 at 1:19 pm

Regardless, this does not look like an attempt to enter the UK undergraduate market.

I think it is. I think the key to it is that they will be open with “I’m elite, me” places for ready cash, just as clearing opens up. So they get posh or upper-middle class kids who have in some way fucked their conditional offers. The more I look at this, the more I think that the totally opaque non-UCAS admissions process – which allows to advertise “Only The Best Is Good Enough” while delivering “Who Pays Enters” – is central to the business model. At the very least, Grayling has to decide which side of the church/state divide he is going to be on.

44

tomslee 06.06.11 at 1:21 pm

Nina Power keeps an ear close to the ground on actions around NCH at http://infinitethought.cinestatic.com/

45

SimonW 06.06.11 at 1:28 pm

Grayling has resigned (been resigned?) from Birkbeck. I get the feeling they’re a bit annoyed with him.

46

Kieran Healy 06.06.11 at 1:37 pm

It’ll be interesting to see whether the for-profit model (i.e., it’s a corporation) will work at the high-status end. The substance of the link to UL will matter a lot. In the US case, universities are constituted as nonprofits, and this is supposed to prevent various sorts of problems that might arise if teachers and others were also investors/owners and there were people expecting a slice of the fees as a return on investment. Of course, being a 503(c)(3) organization for tax purposes isn’t some kind of absolving holy water, and the various money-related problems of US higher ed are well known. But a practical consequence has been to make it extremely difficult for any for-profit outfits (like the University of Phoenix) to generate high status for themselves (or even much baseline legitimacy) in the market.

47

ptl 06.06.11 at 1:38 pm

Good for Birkbeck.

48

Empty inbox 06.06.11 at 1:40 pm

Good for Birkbeck.
Does anyone know if there is to be an actual, visible, college?
And
Who, do you think, turned them down? My go first:
Simon Sciama

49

Kieran Healy 06.06.11 at 1:45 pm

Looking at the website, I like how the bigshots are described as “The Professoriate”—I guess saying “The Staff” or “The Faculty” might be implying a little too much in the way of permanent employment, residency, etc.

50

dsquared 06.06.11 at 1:46 pm

Wow, that is one curt statement. Interesting question – in the sentence “Birkbeck has no links with New College and no agreement to provide New College with access to any of its facilities”, do you think “facilities” includes “syllabuses and course materials”?

51

bjk 06.06.11 at 1:48 pm

Considering that the public universities are having their philosophy departments closed, isn’t this a good thing? “We will only take taxpayer money, no strings attached, no private money either” is a strange position to take. Oberlin is not perpetuating anything other than Oberlin, which isn’t so bad, many people are proud of attending Oberlin and getting a decent education.

52

bjk 06.06.11 at 1:50 pm

It’s almost as if the position is “you can’t buy prestige, you have to earn it – through testing, like I did!”

53

Chris Bertram 06.06.11 at 1:56 pm

_Considering that the public universities are having their philosophy departments closed_

A bit of a blanket statement. Philosophy provision at 2 post-92 institutions (Middlesex and Greenwich) has gone or is going, but threats to close (which may just have been negotiating stances) have been withdrawn at Liverpool and Keele. Of course no-one knows what the future holds,

54

Western Dave 06.06.11 at 2:04 pm

As others have pointed out for SLACs in the US, sticker price and actual price are two completely different things. Most famously, the NYT a few years back had a piece on Ursinus College, a perfectly respectable liberal arts school that used to do just fine attracting students from four states, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware. But the came late to the nationalization of the education market party (unlike similar schools Washington Unviersity in St. Louis and Macalester College in St. Paul) and were losing ground. They had tried selling themselves on value to no avail. Consultants told them to double tuition and give everyone a half-scholarship. Voila, they could compete nationally and up the rankings they shot and they recently got their first Rhodes Scholar.

55

dsquared 06.06.11 at 2:11 pm

for SLACs in the US, sticker price and actual price are two completely different things

they’re not two completely different things though, are they? For example, I would be very surprised if even half of Oberlin College’s undergraduates were paying less than the cost of a Harvard MBA (yours for $112,400)

56

Dennis 06.06.11 at 2:15 pm

I think it’s worth pointing out that in the US model, high sticker prices for elite universities are essentially a price discrimination tool — for the tippy-top, nominal tuition is in that $50k range, but for those making under $200k this is subsidized down to a true cost of 10% of family income. At Harvard, it looks like 60% of students receive “need-based” financial aid of this kind. In this sense, college tuition numbers mean about as much as the nominal prices at US doctors: it may appear on your bill, but few actually pay that amount. I’d kind of love to see a series that charted the evolution of actual dollars paid for college over time rather than sticker prices.

College is quite the scam if you think of it in this way, of course. First tell us everything about your finances, then we’ll tell you what to pay.

57

Andrew Fisher 06.06.11 at 2:20 pm

@dsquared ‘The more I look at this, the more I think that the totally opaque non-UCAS admissions process – which allows to advertise “Only The Best Is Good Enough” while delivering “Who Pays Enters” – is central to the business model.’

Better hope not. If the students are studying the University of London degree in the UK, then they fall within the coverage of the HESA Student Record and UoL will have to return their entry qualification data to HESA who will then (suitably anonymised and for a small fee) provide those data to anyone who asks. Whilst for Overseas students these may not be easy to make much sense of, for UK students, a standard tariff calculation should be easy to do.

58

Michael Mouse 06.06.11 at 2:34 pm

do you think “facilities” includes “syllabuses and course materials”

There’s potentially interesting questions of ownership and usage here, but I suspect they’ll turn out boring.

The Grayling Hall rep on Twitter confirms that they are teaching to the UoL International Programmes (nee External Programme). So, the syllabus is fixed, and is set by the responsible ‘proper’ college from the UoL. Hence the uncanny similarity of, say, the Grayling Hall History syllabus to Royal Holloway’s: the latter are the lead college for History within UoLIP.

The internal procedures are somewhat obscure, but I doubt there’s scope for a lead college to control who’s allowed to teach to the exams using the syllabus and materials – though I would be surprised if several people aren’t busily consulting dusty procedures to explore the potential for doing so.

(While I’m here, I make a rare exception to my usual rule of Anglicising plurals for ‘syllabi’, mainly because it sounds like a hybrid of Scylla and succubi. Got to get your kicks somewhere. My, that pile of marking sure looks enticing.)

59

Cian 06.06.11 at 2:35 pm

Don’t Liberal Arts colleges in the US usually offer pretty decent teaching, especially compared to what undergraduates can expect at some of the more elite research universities. Whereas this place is probably going to offer distinctly sub-par teaching.

60

Joe Cohen 06.06.11 at 2:38 pm

The university industry is more-or-less a business. A non-profit status just means that there are no shareholders getting dividends. I’d bet that upper-management is earning very high salaries.

If I were to guess: All university programs profess to believe in some form of egalitarianism, because it gives the appearance that the institution is interested in knowledge and developing intelligence, and not pursuing money. If you are obviously pursuing rich people’s money, you look like a business. Better to talk about how you pursue the brightest minds, no matter where they are, and even let in a few of them at subsidized rates so that you cannot be called a liar. Then, populate the vast majority of your program with rich people paying top dollar.

Overall, I think that anyone paying that kind of money for that kind of degree is a sucker.

61

dsquared 06.06.11 at 2:41 pm

If the students are studying the University of London degree in the UK, then they fall within the coverage of the HESA Student Record and UoL will have to return their entry qualification data to HESA who will then (suitably anonymised and for a small fee) provide those data to anyone who asks. Whilst for Overseas students these may not be easy to make much sense of, for UK students, a standard tariff calculation should be easy to do.

But the data will look OK – they’re going to be taking a posh, middle-class peer group who failed, but only by a bit, to get into top state universities. They’ll be comfortably in the middle of the table for University of London, to maybe even a little higher. Maybe a lot higher if they actually plough the fees into extra teaching rather than taking them as dividends. But also note Chris’s list of birth dates in #6 and reflect on the investment banker’s acronym, “IBGYBG”.

62

ejh 06.06.11 at 2:43 pm

Entertainingly explained here

63

Alex 06.06.11 at 2:46 pm

I get the impression Grayling was trying to come up with the closest approximation to the position of a consultant medic who takes on private patients as a sideline he could, but with the added twist of just borrowing the odd seminar room from BBK (or, great Cthulhu, use his office..). So when Thicko McRich doesn’t get in, he could say “Well, there are certain options…”

64

CharlieMcMenamin 06.06.11 at 2:50 pm

@51 -bjk It’s almost as if the position is “you can’t buy prestige, you have to earn it – through testing, like I did!”

Reassure me. That was a joke, right?

65

praisegod barebones 06.06.11 at 2:54 pm

Since I’m in the mood for being entertained, I’m disappointed to find that ejh’s link gives me a 404 not found error.

66

ejh 06.06.11 at 2:56 pm

That’s because I am inept. Try again

67

SamChevre 06.06.11 at 3:00 pm

they’re not two completely different things though, are they?

I believe that when I graduated in 2001 from a SLAC (not Oberlin), 60% of the students got need-based financial aid of more than 50% of tuition.

68

bjk 06.06.11 at 3:00 pm

It’s true, you can’t buy prestige – they’ll sniff you out, all the second raters and mediocrities who think you can tell time from a fake Rolex.

That was a joke.

69

Harry 06.06.11 at 3:16 pm

I wouldn’t be surprised if more than half the Oberlin undergraduates were paying less than that. SamChevre’s experience sounds typical to me (see Western Dave’s comment. I hadn’t heard that one. But I did hear of another SLAC that was advised to increase its tuition and offer everybody an athletics scholarship, which worked a treat). I can probably get semi-firm data on this if you want.

70

Western Dave 06.06.11 at 3:23 pm

@ejh. Too funny. Especially since the tags for the entry include Princeton instead of Penn. Poor Penn, can’t get credit for being in the Ivy League even when somebody is bashing on it.

71

Liz K 06.06.11 at 3:23 pm

And yet, no-one erudite has yet mentioned the magic phrase “trahison des clercs”, which may have originated in a different context but which I find so appropriate.. Isn’t it treacherous to sell out a priest-like social position/standing for money?!

72

nick s 06.06.11 at 3:24 pm

they’re not two completely different things though, are they?

They hold two different functions: the high baseline for private institutions, currently around $37k and change, is a status marker, and if Willetts was unaware of that when dealing with UK fees, he deserves to be kicked in the nads every morning for the rest of his life.

You can compare it to the pricing of medical services in the US, where you have an outrageous headline rate that allows for a merely extortionate discount rate. By that analogy, Grayling Hall is a dodgy Harley Street plastic surgeon.

73

Kieran Healy 06.06.11 at 3:24 pm

Poor Penn, can’t get credit for being in the Ivy League even when somebody is bashing on it.

I think the joke goes that U Penn undergrads insist the name of their school is “U Penn and Other Ivies”.

74

Jakob 06.06.11 at 3:26 pm

From the information in Michael’s post #11, Glengall Road’s a residential street full of Georgian houses such as a professor might live in.The street backs onto the Old Kent Road Asda, in which I have stood in line behind a certain Professor Grayling whilst doing the weekly shop. It’s almost as if this Ivy League substitute is being run out of someone’s spare room…

75

belle le triste 06.06.11 at 3:29 pm

What was he buying?

76

Jakob 06.06.11 at 3:33 pm

Alas, I don’t recall; clearly nothing too memorable.

77

Liz K 06.06.11 at 3:39 pm

And yet, no-one erudite has yet mentioned the magic phrase “trahison des clercs”, which may have originated in a different context but which I find so appropriate.. Isn’t it treacherous to sell out a priest-like social position/moralstanding for money?!! Why do Dawkins & Grayling think ppl listen to them, if it isn’t for their “independent”, intellectual doctors-of-the-new-church mystique? (BTW I certainly don’t come from academe, thought less of most of my uni lecturers than of my primary school teachers. But I certainly had Grayling pegged as loopy when he decided to write his own rival to the Bible! Delusions of grandeur..)

78

dsquared 06.06.11 at 3:47 pm

Dawkins is currently crying foul on his website, saying that he had basically signed up to this as a sort of retirement gig, doing a few easy lectures to generalist audiences with a few old mates, and that he had no idea that he was going to be promoted as the public face and one of the founders of the thing.

79

praisegod barebones 06.06.11 at 3:51 pm

ejh@66: thanks!

80

Liz K 06.06.11 at 3:59 pm

@dsquared: Dawkins would. @nick s: how about a double glazing salesman? They pad prices and do “discounts” too! To all the rest of you: I currently get the feeling that you are prepared to snark about this, but are not really *upset* OR *outraged* about it. In which case, your clubby snarkery will get you nowhere!

81

Andrew Fisher 06.06.11 at 4:11 pm

@dsquared ‘they’re going to be taking a posh, middle-class peer group who failed, but only by a bit, to get into top state universities. They’ll be comfortably in the middle of the table for University of London, to maybe even a little higher.’

This I agree with. I thought you were saying that if they got caught doing this then it would be fatal to the enterprise. That I’m less sure about.

My view is that it will be difficult to establish an elite brand in what may be a narrow window before the current caps on expansion at existing elite and near-elite institutions are removed. Oxbridge probably aren’t going to offer any more places even when the cap comes off, but (e.g.) Reading might and for the concept to last in the longer term, it has to feel at least £27,000 more exclusive than places like Reading.

Had to look up IBGYBG.

82

Andrew Fisher 06.06.11 at 4:15 pm

@Liz K ‘not really upset OR outraged about it’

Regents has been out there for years in pretty much this market segment, as have Buckingham. Most of us aren’t upset or outraged about either of those. Ought we to hold AC Grayling to a higher standard than Terence Kealey?

83

LFC 06.06.11 at 4:24 pm

Kieran H. @46 makes the point that US universities are, for the most part, non-profit institutions. Joe Cohen @60 replies that universities are more-or-less businesses, that the non-profit status simply means there are no shareholders receiving dividends.

Actually, the non-profit status means more than this. First, it means universities in the US don’t pay taxes. Second, it means they don’t have to make a profit: they have to make enough money to pay their faculty, meet expenses, undertake improvements etc, have an endowment (if they’re lucky), but they don’t have to have any “net income”. Admittedly, universities are more like businesses than in the past, and some spend millions of dollars on branding/marketing campaigns, desperate to attract larger applicant pools and thereby increase their rankings. But this, like price-discrimination in tuition, is driven partly by the baleful impact of the US News (and similar) rankings. My impression/guess is that if US universities became for-profit institutions these trends would all be much worse.

Btw, T. Eagleton on NCH here.

84

LFC 06.06.11 at 4:27 pm

Sorry, Eagleton link as I put it in doesn’t work; piece is at the Guardian

85

ejh 06.06.11 at 5:37 pm

Can anybody think of appropriate Dylan lines to quote regarding Christopher Ricks’ involvement?

86

Jasper Milvain 06.06.11 at 5:45 pm

The Urban Dictionary definition for “IBGYBG” is notably trenchant.

87

belle le triste 06.06.11 at 5:49 pm

Eagleton here

Here too is the UoL press release. I only glanced, but doesn’t it make a couple of Eagleton’s claims wrong, at least about UoL? (Do professors of Lit Theory phone press offices to fact-check?) Anyway, details aside, the bulk of the kicking delivered is utterly deserved and excellent fun.

(My own favourite bit is pure Eagleton, though: where he slips a sly self-adoring boast into the second last sentence; about how he, Terry Eagleton, actually managed to get to Cambridge when so very much fewer working class students were admitted. “Paper bag in’t middle of road…” )

88

ejh 06.06.11 at 5:51 pm

I liked the bit about bet-there’s-no-Theology-Department….

89

belle le triste 06.06.11 at 5:57 pm

“identikit Islington man” — I assume that “bruschetta-munching” was subbed out as an overused cliche there…

90

chris y 06.06.11 at 6:02 pm

I suspect the commenter who suggests that it’s the academic equivalent of the New York Cosmos probably gets it right.

91

Harry 06.06.11 at 6:38 pm

Here’s Boris Johnson:

London’s mayor, Boris Johnson, backed Grayling’s idea, saying “it fully deserves to succeed and to be imitated”.

It prompted him, Johnson added, to recall his own idea of founding “Reject’s College, Oxbridge”, which would be “aimed squarely at the wrathful parents – many of them Oxbridge graduates – who simply could not understand how their own offspring could rack up three A-stars and grade 8 bassoon, and yet find themselves turned down”.

92

praisegod barebones 06.06.11 at 6:43 pm

The fact that Boris Johnson and Brian Leiter are both in favour of this tells me much of what I need to know. (Liz K. : as someone who got their higher education in the UK before the introduction of student loans, I am pretty outraged. But given that I live not only in a different country, but on a different continent, anonymlus snark is one of the few outlets for it).

93

novakant 06.06.11 at 6:44 pm

Shouldn’t a real egalitarian be against tuition fees in general?

94

Harry 06.06.11 at 6:57 pm

novakant: it depends. A real egalitarian should want to get rid of the wage-and-job-quality premium attached to higher ed, and ensure that everyone is very well educated. Failing that, state investment in pre-k and k-6 is much more likely to improve the lives of children born into less advantaged homes than state investment in higher ed. Of course, if you think the funding withdrawn from HE that tuition fees replace will not, in fact, go to pre-K and K-6, you might be against tuition fees. (So, eg, in my state, if the current budget were proposing to raise tuition fees in state universities in order to avoid cutting investment in k-12 I’d probably support that. It isn’t).

95

Brian 06.06.11 at 7:02 pm

This is a first, I’ve been lumped together with Boris Johnson!

96

SimonW 06.06.11 at 8:41 pm

This is brilliant. In response to a Guardian article describing how NCH is offering courses based on the University of London international programme, AC Grayling himself has shown up with a comment that easily reaches the high standards of logic and readability we all expect to see in below the line comments at the Guardian:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/discussion/comment-permalink/11062110

97

banflaw 06.06.11 at 10:12 pm

I used to respect Christopher Ricks.

98

Chris Bertram 06.06.11 at 10:15 pm

So, some rough and ready calculations that could be way off ….

They’re talking about a (better than) 1 to 10 staff student ratio and lots of contact hours, all funded from a £18,000 fee, which some students won’t be paying. So if we start with those ten students generating, say, £120,000 income per teaching staff member which also has to fund infrastructure, the “professoriate”, administration, computing services, etc, I think things are looking awfully tight. … Allow that 50% of the 120k gets left for employing the teaching staff then. That gives you £60k, but given employment on-costs (national insurance etc), I’d say you’re looking at a real upper limit of £40k for actual
salary. (If some or all of the staff get “research time” or sabbatical leave, then you’d need more staff to make good on the “better than” 1:10 ratio so the finances would worsen further … ) In short, I don’t see how this is working without (a) squeezing the quality or (b) increasing the fees or (c) exploitation of contract teaching staff.

99

dsquared 06.06.11 at 10:20 pm

I did the calculation from a top-down rather than bottom-up perspective in Blood and Treasure comments and reached the same conclusion as Chris. Also note that in Chris’s version of the calculation, it’s £105,000 per teaching staff member, because £1500 per student goes straight out the door to University of London as the enrolment fee on the International Students program. This also looks very much like something that would be a VAT-able supply, and it’s not clear whether the quoted £18k is gross or net of that.

100

Chris Bertram 06.06.11 at 10:31 pm

So if the sums don’t work out for now, could it be that the investors are prepared to take a loss for now in order to be well positioned in a fully (or more) privatized UK HE market in the near future?

101

nick s 06.06.11 at 10:43 pm

I used to respect Christopher Ricks.

He’s been on the academic equivalent of the executive entertainment circuit for a while. I don’t have much of a problem with semi-emeritus types doing that sort of thing: if you’re going to extract money from wealthy middle-aged people, do it with an accompaniment of overcooked chicken, and not under the auspices of educating their kids.

102

nick s 06.06.11 at 10:51 pm

(Oxbridge types who spent their vacations in town may be reminded of the American undergraduates who show up and receive a pastiche of the “Oxbridge experience” in exchange for course credit back home, while the bulk of their fees goes into the college kitty for board and lodge, and towards decent pocket money for the moonlighting tutors. Ricks has been known to show up as a guest lecturer for them, too.)

103

SimonW 06.06.11 at 10:54 pm

It all seems too small scale to capatalize on any future privatization. They don’t have their own buildings, they don’t even own their own courses (at least not yet) so there’s not going to be much there. Imagine if say the LSE went private in the future, how on earth would the NCH be able to compete with them?

104

Roger 06.06.11 at 11:00 pm

Remember that after the first couple of years there are 600 students in total. Assuming that the £18000 is pre-VAT, and that the UoL enrolment thing is a one time thing per student, and taking into account Graylings claim somewhere that a third of students won’t be paying anything, I get a total of £6.9 million to spend on all staff and facilities per year.

I count 14 “Pofessoriate” and after removing £1.4 million or so we’re left with £5.5 million for out of work Phds (who I presume will do the bulk of the teaching, note that the website only says that your main subject tutorial will be one to one, not the other promised tutorial) and other costs. A very rough sketch up of costs suggests that this is actually probably enough to break even, although I can’t see the students getting any luxuries without paying a little more

105

thomas 06.06.11 at 11:05 pm

Interesting that NCH will be offering a law degree.

I got my law degree from one of the established UofL colleges. Though I did not go into the legal profession in the end, I do know that barristers’ chambers and solicitors’ firms divide universities into fairly well-established tiers for recruitment purposes. The top tier comprises Oxbridge, LSE, UCL and King’s. The second, maybe Queen Mary, London and the top provincial places like Durham, Manchester, Warwick and Bristol. After that, the rest.

If you want a top job in the law, it pays to go to a top tier school. It has been like this for years, and there is no evidence that it will change any time soon (the law is a very conservative profession after all, and at the highest levels it is very conservative, and very snobbish, indeed). By going to NCH to study law, a student is decreasing the chance that he or she will land a job at a top firm, while paying a massively inflated fee for the privilege.

Sadly, it does seem that this institution is designed for those with more money than sense.

106

leederick 06.07.11 at 12:48 am

Chris/dsquared – I think the claims are more modest at 10:1 student/teacher (i.e. class size) ratio not student/staff (i.e. faculty FTEs), 12 hours contact a week, 3 terms x 10 weeks a year, so one staff member could easily deal with 20 students. That’s 10 staff for 200 students, or 6 FTEs. Paying for teaching seems perfectly manageable, realistically Buckingham does it on £17k/yr and other UK universities on £9k, so I don’t think this is doomed from the start. Examining and awarding the degrees are outsourced at £1.5k a year to the UoL, there’s no research to worry about, plenty of spare PhDs in London, and ancillary revenue streams from things like accommodation and selling lecture tickets to the masses.

I think the real danger to their business model are (1) failure to get bums on seats or strange proportions across courses, (2) there are lots of dubious claims in the press which if tied back to officers of the company could get them into trouble. Really it’s a bit of a PR disaster; if the story had been that they were coaching rich kids through the UoL external program there wouldn’t have been a problem, setting up an elite ‘private university’ to ‘rival Oxbridge’ and ‘award degrees’ while charging twice the current fees is seriously misleading and gets lots of people’s backs up – particularly in the current climate.

107

maidhc 06.07.11 at 3:23 am

Student/faculty ratio is not the same thing as class size. If a full-time student load is defined as 5 courses (say), then each student sitting in a classroom is only one-fifth of a Full-Time Equivalent Student. If a faculty member teaches only 1 class, it would have 50 students in it to give a 10:1 student/faculty ratio. That is if you go by Full-Time Equivalent Faculty, and define a full-time teaching load as 1 class.

If a full-time teaching load were 5 classes per faculty member, then you would have a class size of 10. That is a very high teaching load. A realistic class size would be in between the extremes of 10 and 50.

On the other hand, if you go by head count and not FTEF, 5 part-time faculty at 20% FTEF each could teach 5 classes (one apiece) with 50 students in each class and there would be a student/faculty ratio of 10:1, but this would be a deceptive way to calculate.

108

JP Stormcrow 06.07.11 at 3:36 am

Despite the high fees (even when discounted), most US liberal arts college do not come close to covering their costs via tuition and fees. At our example, Oberlin, they cover about~57%. (From that link it appears their average “discount” rate is slightly more than 40%, so for tuition + fees about $90K for four years, total cost ~$120K.) The financial data for a lot of LACs is summarized at the back of this recent book, Liberal Arts at the Brink. The spend per student per year can be quite high, at Swarthmore, for instance, it is ~$80k/year.

109

Joe Cohen 06.07.11 at 4:36 am

Oliver @17> A 50k degree will show that you are not of “poor stock” at the very least. Believe it or not, that counts when you’re going for a lot of jobs. You don’t think that it would be an asset in getting that junior position in several Tier-2 finance, law or consulting firms? It might also tip the balance of a grad school admissions decision for a marginal student. It might ultimately be a better option than going to a ho-hum, run-of-the-mill public institution. I concede that it might be less helpful in getting you into a big-shot doctoral program, but I’m quite confident that it will gain purchase in plenty of jobs that undergraduates want.

LFC @83. Non-profit status confers tax benefits but does not relieve the need of net income. Any organizations whose expenditures consistently exceed receipts will have to cut back at some point. Most colleges are strongly dominated by a class of senior executives who earn salaries that would be embarrassing thirty years ago. My impression is that virtually all universities that are not sitting massive endowments or iron-clad guarantees of government support are out there hustling a buck. (Why have an athletics program or develop a resort-like campus?)

On the issue of “Reject’s College, Oxbridge” (quoted by Harry @91) – there are plenty of Reject’s Colleges doing good business. Really, doesn’t every student who pays $30,000 a year for a degree that is not known by virtually every well-educated person on earth a member of a “reject’s college” of sorts? It doesn’t mean that their education is necessarily bad. In some cases, their educational experience might even be better than the universities that are supposedly nobody’s “reject”. (BTW, from one Canadian’s perspective, there are two schools of this type in the UK, and somewhere around 5 or 10 of them in the US).

The million dollar question with the university is whether it is going to be something special beyond its initial, well-financed roll-out, or whether it is going to be the first of a more bottom-feeding type of hyper-expensive institution. When we think of $30,000 a year universities, we think about Ivy Leagues or other more prestigious US schools. This market is WAY bigger than these elite institutions. Off the top of my head, I can think of 10 such universities in CUNY’s local market. I’m guessing that most people from outside the city only know of two. I just moved to Northern New Jersey, and there’s a bunch of them here too.

What’s sad is that it seems like Britain is taking one step away from the kind of system that I remember leaving in Canada (in the 1990s – frankly, I don’t know what is going on now), and toward the US system in which I work now. Soon enough, large pieces of the upper-middle class will be paying their less stellar offsprings’ way into “selective” colleges, which will produce better grads because the students probably came from better secondary schools, didn’t have to work while in college, have better family, neighborhood or community contacts, etc. Then, they’ll start thinking of public education as a waste of money. And so on.

110

Joe Cohen 06.07.11 at 4:44 am

PS. In characterizing Greater NY 30k+ colleges as “bottom-feeders”, I was not implying that their students or training was of low absolute quality. Instead, I was describing – in somewhat dramatic terms – the fact that they are struggling for admits who would generally not be admitted into leading international-level schools. Many of these students would not be rejected from these A-level schools for lack of intelligence, but rather by virtue of the fact that having wealth, good prior training or savoir-faire helps.

111

dsquared 06.07.11 at 6:01 am

Leederick – I’m not getting this – they keep on talking about Oxbridge tutorial models, which would be a class size of between 1 and 3.

112

Chris Bertram 06.07.11 at 6:40 am

Not only are they talking about Oxbridge tutorials, but they are specific about 1 to 1 sessions and a “better than 10 to 1″ overall ssr.

113

Jo Wolff 06.07.11 at 7:03 am

Offering University of London International degrees is a clever move. You or I could set up an education institution tomorrow and offer to teach for this with no special licence. The students register to take the examination with the University of London and can prepare on their own, or with any form of paid help. It used to be called the ‘External Degree’ and at least in Philosophy was based on the now defunct University of London Federal Internal degree programme. It is a traditional finals degree system with eight exam papers in the final year, or at least this is how it has been until very recently. But offering this is a smart move administratively as you do not need your own examination administrators and in fact the teaching staff will not do any of the finals marking unless they happen, independently, to have signed up as a grader for the International Programme.

However, there are also disadvantages. Those teaching for the International Programme have no control over the examination syllabus, which is probably why NCH has to offer a separate ‘Diploma’ to cover the extra elements. (Birkbeck leads for the International Programme in Philosophy and makes quite a lot of money out of it, so there will be an informal relation at least.)

Until the expansion of the university sector in the 1960s most universities in the UK used to examine their students this way: that is by offering University of London external degrees. It is only in the last few decades that individual universities have been granted their own degree awarding powers.

114

Jack Strocchi 06.07.11 at 8:09 am

Everything you need to know about “A. C. Grayling” (or toad of Grayling Hall, as I prefer to think of him) and his latest bit of academic entrepreneurship can be gleaned from a glance at his exquisitely coiffed hair-do. A man who spends that much time in front of the mirror every day will not be broadening many intellectual horizons, let alone those of the jet-setting, with-it types.

Those who insist on taking this pompous fool seriously can save themselves some trouble by letting John Gray do all the light-weight lifting. Gray skewers him mercilessly and relentlessly, without once mentioning his hair. Grayling’s (or “A. C.” to his gruesome friends) touchy and irritable response is here.

115

dsquared 06.07.11 at 8:10 am

The veteran of industry standards wars within me foresees that if Birkbeck is a) the lead for the International Programme in Philosophy and b) very very pissed off with AC Grayling, then there will quite likely be a major change to the syllabus at the last minute before the start of NCH’s first year. Readers may wish to prepare for that.

116

Ciarán 06.07.11 at 9:05 am

I suppose one major difference between the NCH and, say, Buckingham, is that with the NCH you’re paying a private institution top dollar so you can access syllabi created by the public sector on estate built and maintained by the public sector to sit exams subsidised by the public sector.

The UoL’s response to Grayling should be “for you sir: full economic costs.”

117

Phil 06.07.11 at 9:16 am

The question really is whether Grayling has enough friends inside the gates, in the form of UoL managers who can see an upside for them. If not, the cost-multiplying monster that is FEC is just waiting to be let out.

118

ajay 06.07.11 at 9:17 am

The UoL’s response to Grayling should be “for you sir: full economic costs.”

Does me good to think of the public sector chiselling the private sector for everything it can get, for a change…

119

Chris Bertram 06.07.11 at 9:20 am

Yes, but if Willetts wants Grayling Towers to succeed (as he certainly does), he surely has ways of making UoL see that their interests are best served by being compliant.

120

Sam Dodsworth 06.07.11 at 9:27 am

The question really is whether Grayling has enough friends inside the gates, in the form of UoL managers who can see an upside for them.

Even if that was the case, I doubt he’s going to get much support from the other UoL colleges. The sense I’m getting is that the academics are opposed on principle and the vice-chancellors, who might otherwise be sympathetic, see him as a jumped-up outsider.

121

SalMGarcia 06.07.11 at 9:46 am

I also find it more than surprising that apparently Ronald Dworkin (on the ‘professoriate’ for Law I presume) will be “teaching” on a law degree where the jurisprudence course is described as follows:

***”Jurisprudence and legal theory
In Jurisprudence, you will consider some legal basics: what it is, how it fits into and regulates society, and its institutional and moral role beyond a mere list of rules. The module includes a review of legal theory, past and present, critical legal studies (including critical race theory) and feminist jurisprudence. Unlike other parts of the law curriculum, this is a subjective area with few hard-and-fast answers.”***

Hard to see what ‘direct input’ the professoriate have had into the education of the prospective students when this seems to go against absolutely everything RD has ever stood for in legal theory….

Draw your own conclusions…..

122

belle le triste 06.07.11 at 11:01 am

I’ve never had a high opinion of Grayling — but I’m just some oaf out beyond the edges of academia, long soured on the entire project of philosophy if I’m honest. Plenty of people from his own field hold him in pretty high regard; as a media figure he seems to get asked back a lot. So he has admirers, or had till yesterday.

How damaged is he now among these? And (given the apparent cluelessness of this rollout) how good does he currently look to Willetts et al? Is there any way this ends up as good PR for the Brights Crammer?

123

Phil 06.07.11 at 11:11 am

The “Professoriate” are apparently contracted to do 100 hours of teaching between them, i.e. an average of 7 and a bit each. Dworkin is going to be “teaching on” the Law degree in very much the same sense that Martin Amis was “teaching on” the English degree at Manchester.

Strip off the SHINY THING! represented by all those big names, and what you’ve got is an operation using other people’s distance learning materials to teach other people’s syllabi, so as to prepare students for other people’s exams. And charging big money for the privilege… which makes me wonder what that privilege really is, & suspect that Boris may have let the cat out of the bag with the “Reject’s College” line (although clearly it’s “Reject’s College, University of London”).

Also, the emphasis on distance learning & the marked lack of emphasis on physical buildings makes me wonder how – and where – they’re planning to deliver the vaunted one-to-one sessions – Skype? iChat? Second Life?

124

praisegod barebones 06.07.11 at 11:13 am

Plenty of people from his own field hold him in pretty high regard; as a media figure he seems to get asked back a lot.

Rhetorically, that’s a wonderfully balanced sentence; factually I’m not so sure. Take a look at this, for example:

http://ndpr.nd.edu/review.cfm?id=13325

125

belle le triste 06.07.11 at 11:28 am

haha, OK, busted! But if I “unbalance” the sentence, my question becomes “Everyone everywhere has always agreed with me that ACG is a puffed-up twerp with foolish hair, so none of this comes as a surprise, does it?”

Yet plenty of people seem quite surprised, and I sincerely doubt everyone has always agreed with me about him. So I am assuming he does have a congregation of support of some non-negligible kind — and wondering how they are currently feeling.

126

ajay 06.07.11 at 11:30 am

And charging big money for the privilege… which makes me wonder what that privilege really is,

Small class sizes and one-to-one tutorials, it seems. As you point out, everything else is UoL standard, and the facilities and libraries may well be UoL ones.

This is University of London Club Class. The aircraft will get you to exactly the same destination, it’ll just cost six times as much. But you’ll get a lot more attention from the cabin crew while you go.

127

sg 06.07.11 at 11:45 am

The Guardian has an amusing article about the increasing shambles that is higher education policy today. It appears “goes skiing in Milton Keynes” Grayling was expecting to get government subsidies of 6k a student (or at least, his “backers” were), but the government has said that won’t happen. But at the same time the government is also having to discuss rationing access to university because of the huge increase in costs caused by their raising of the funding cap to 9k.

So hilarious that their free market solution is going to end in old-fashioned 70s rationing. And how happy will British industry be with the Tories 5 years from now, when they suffer a sudden loss of graduates, at the same time as a Tory immigration cap…

128

Cian 06.07.11 at 11:46 am

I wonder if the original idea was a crammer college, with an additional bit of snobbery thrown in to attract the punters (you will get these “star” TV academics giving lectures). And then Grayling’s intellectual whatever kicked in, and instead he claimed that it was something it clearly cannot be.

I mean one of the dirty little secrets of British upper middle class life, is that the thicker kids (and you really have to be quite stupid to get bad A-levels, having been through a good public school that specialises in this) often have to be sent to a crammer school to get acceptable A-levels (see for example Martin Amis), and then tend to struggle at university. This is just an attempt to extend the concept a bit.

129

Chris Williams 06.07.11 at 11:50 am

Grayling has just become President of the British Humanist Association, so I qualify as a member of his congregation in a remarkably literal sense. I am currently feeling: ‘somewhat miffed’.

130

dsquared 06.07.11 at 12:27 pm

It appears “goes skiing in Milton Keynes” Grayling was expecting to get government subsidies of 6k a student (or at least, his “backers” were)

Because I spent the cash on (what was then regarded as, eheu fugaces) a very expensive finance degree, I can tell you that this probably would change quite a lot about the economics of the deal.

I wonder if the original idea was a crammer college, with an additional bit of snobbery thrown in to attract the punters (you will get these “star” TV academics giving lectures). And then Grayling’s intellectual whatever kicked in, and instead he claimed that it was something it clearly cannot be.

Other way round I think – Grayling probably saw himself as creating a new Oxford, freed of the dead hand of “all this dreadful administration” &c, paying twice market wages and giving each student the care and attention needed. Then the private equity boys moved in and got to grips with the financial realities, and a process known as “cooling the mark out” began to reconcile our great Man Of Brightness to the new plan.

That’s assuming that it was ever a viable idea, btw. I still prefer the theory that what we’re seeing is a particularly aggressive attempt to barrack the referee with respect to the coming higher education funding review, leveraging the reputation of a lot of old, clever-but-not-streetwise academic galacticos, who have been made to look the most fearful chumps.

131

Chunter 06.07.11 at 1:21 pm

The directors of New College of Humanities Ltd are:

Mr Matthew Nicholas Edward Batstone (46)
Roy William Brown (73)
Jeremy Stephen Gibbs (53)
Professor Anthony Clifford Grayling (62)
Charles Basil Lucas Watson (49)

Source: http://www.hlevelbusiness.com/doc/company/uk/07317195

132

ajay 06.07.11 at 1:21 pm

It appears “goes skiing in Milton Keynes” Grayling was expecting to get government subsidies of 6k a student

I think the article is talking about government student loans of £6k, not government subsidies, which is a bit of a difference. The way you put it, it sounds like Graylfriars Prep School was expecting to get £24k per student per year – £18k fees and £6k subsidies. They weren’t – they were only expecting £18k fees, but they were hoping that the students would still be able to get government student loans to help them pay it. Which they apparently won’t.

133

sg 06.07.11 at 1:32 pm

good point ajay, but still… this means that the course will actually cost 18k up front, rather than 12k, which surely has rendered their target audience a more elite (and a little thicker) than they were planning on…

134

tomslee 06.07.11 at 1:33 pm

#131: A quick scan suggests that you can make up for a lack of seniority in years by having an multiple middle names with middle-English credentials.

I leave the class war implications of this result to others.

135

Chunter 06.07.11 at 1:58 pm

Does anyone know whether they have applied for an ac.uk domain? ‘Privately-funded organisations/institutions’ are ineligible (see Section 1.3 of http://www.ja.net/services/domain-name-registration/register.ac.uk/eligibility-ac.html).

136

Phil 06.07.11 at 2:41 pm

#134 – true. It’s nice to see that R. William Brown has made good, though.

137

Chris Williams 06.07.11 at 2:43 pm

Buckingham is private, but it has an .ac.uk domain – perhaps because it’s got its own Royal Charter. This whole fiasco has made me see Buckingham in a rather better light. It is not, at least, attempting to get rich quick while free-riding on the asset base of the public sector. I have myself considered the prospect of just selling knowledge to the punters face to face, without accreditation. But that’s not what the CHUMs are doing. And, of course, one of the reasons that I know so much (about so little, but let that pass) is that I’ve had several hundred thousand pounds of taxpayers’ money to live off while I learned it.

138

Harry 06.07.11 at 3:05 pm

My dad was born in the war and wasn’t christened till he was old enough to comment on his name (10, or something, an odd oversight, maybe my grandpa didn’t get religion till then), so he insisted on securing two middle names such that the three initials prior to his surname would look good on a cricket scorecard (a la MJK Smith).

139

SamChevre 06.07.11 at 3:16 pm

What you’ve got is an operation using other people’s distance learning materials to teach other people’s syllabi, so as to prepare students for other people’s exams.

This would, in my opinion, be a good model for much of higher education: pass UofXYZ exams for courseEc and you get a UofXYZ course credit for courseEc, regardless of whether you sat at home with a computer or paid $20K a year at a good college to prepare for those exams.

(As a US actuarial student, I may be somewhat biased–that’s how the actuarial exam system works.)

140

dsquared 06.07.11 at 3:24 pm

I’d just note that the fact that tutorial systems are jolly expensive to provide is recognised in the funding formula for Oxford and Cambridge, which kicks them about £6000/head to pay for it. So NCH’s £18,000 has to compare to Oxbridge revenues of £15,000/student (actually per EU student, the true average is significantly higher), which Grayling believes to be completely inadequate, well below the true cost, etc etc. And that £3000 difference has to pay for buildings (which Oxbridge colleges tend to own outright, rather than renting in Central London), scholarships (which eat up £3600 on their own if the 20% free places is true) and per-year costs of the International Degree Program of £1000.

141

Chris Williams 06.07.11 at 3:30 pm

Teaching rooms in the LSE are remarkably cheap to hire of a weekend. Perhaps if the CHUMs start block-booking them, the price may go up, which is another reason for me not to like it. Mind you, perhaps the reason they are cheap is that it’s the weekend. CHUMs’ll be skiing in Milton Keynes at the weekend.

142

ajay 06.07.11 at 3:43 pm

he insisted on securing two middle names such that the three initials prior to his surname would look good on a cricket scorecard (a la MJK Smith).

Wasn’t there some distinction between Gentlemen (amateurs, who were MJK Smith) and Players (unspeakable professionals who were condemned to be Smith, MJK)? Or have I got that the wrong way round?

143

ajay 06.07.11 at 3:44 pm

And I really can’t imagine that the sort of international student who spends £18k a year on fees – plus living expenses for London – is going to be tempted by the prospect of taking the Birmingham train on Friday evening for a bit of apres-ski by the pistes of Milton Keynes.

144

Chris Bertram 06.07.11 at 3:45 pm

A thread in another place refers to the European College of Liberal Arts, Berlin as a possible comparison. Looks better value, actually better all round though.

http://www.ecla.de/

145

ejh 06.07.11 at 3:50 pm

Personally I never much liked the tutorial system. It was significantly harder to fail to turn up than it ever was for lectures.

146

ajay 06.07.11 at 3:52 pm

145: also much harder – though, amazingly, not impossible – to doze off during them.

147

Planeshift 06.07.11 at 3:55 pm

1st week of the course; students will learn how to manipulate the media into giving lots of coverage to a completely flawed business plan.

2nd week. Students will learn how to make up for the mistakes of week 1 by lobbying the government for a large subsidy to cover the incompetence.

3rd week. Work experience in one of britain’s top financial institutions. No relation to week 2.

4th week. Essay question: explain, in your own words, how the global recession of 2008 to 2011 was caused by Gordon Brown.

148

Chris Bertram 06.07.11 at 3:56 pm

It is easier to doze off whilst your _giving_ a one-to-one tutorial than whilst giving a lecture, especially if listening with your eyes closed in a comfy armchair.

149

Planeshift 06.07.11 at 3:57 pm

5th week. Students will drop out and found a social networking website that sucks in lost of venture capital and creates another bubble.

150

alexf 06.07.11 at 3:57 pm

#140 it’s not 20% free places – it’s “more than 20%” not paying the full £18,000

http://twitter.com/#!/NewCollegeH/statuses/77734672964136960

151

Chris Bertram 06.07.11 at 3:57 pm

#147: How long before NCH features on _The Apprentice_.

(Actually, I want to see Grayling on _Celebrity Apprentice_ ).

152

Yarrow 06.07.11 at 4:10 pm

Phil @ 123: “The “Professoriate” are apparently contracted to do 100 hours of teaching between them, i.e. an average of 7 and a bit each.”

Shades of the Famous Writers School!

153

Phil 06.07.11 at 4:19 pm

152 comments in two days! Not sure how that could be bettered – although I did hear that Grayling will be particularly upset if the College doesn’t go ahead, as he was thinking of sending his child Storm there…

154

Gene O'Grady 06.07.11 at 4:24 pm

Chris Bertram is undoubtedly right in no. 148, but a professor in my first year at college became an instant legend by falling asleep while lecturing to 250+ students (essentially the whole freshman class).

155

Cian 06.07.11 at 4:24 pm

Also note that Oxbridge colleges have endowments (or receive something from them, at least in Cambridge), and tend to have additional revenues in the form of conferences, summer schools, etc.

156

jim 06.07.11 at 4:48 pm

The calculations in various comments above are probably wrong since they all seem to assume reasonable full-time academic salaries.

The adjunct revolution in US colleges has shown that instruction can be performed at very low cost. Adjuncts in the humanities are typically paid around $2,500 a semester-course. Which would translate to around £3,500 a year-course. The fees that Oxford finds it necessary to pay its dons to incentivize them to perform supervisions are irrelevant. What do you have to pay an adjunct to take on supervising a student? In the US, a directed reading course (the closest equivalent) will pay $500 a semester: £700 for the year.

Assume, then, a student’s typical load is four 7-person seminars and two tutorials. If fully adjunctified, instructional costs per student, per year would be £3,400. Which leaves a lot of change out of £18,000.

157

dsquared 06.07.11 at 4:51 pm

#156: In its advance publicity, Grayling Hall have occasionally made a bit of a deal out of their attention to pay above the going rate for UK academics. So I don’t think it’s the calculations that are wrong – it’s the business plan that they’re describing. And if they’re attempting to replicate the Oxbridge system, it’s more like twenty tutorials per term. The cost of the tutorial system isn’t an incentive to the academics – you just need massively more headcount to run class sizes of 2 or 3.

158

Chris Bertram 06.07.11 at 4:51 pm

jim: the claims currently being made are that the NCH will employ it teaching staff on terms significantly _better_ than regular academics get. I was corrected by Brian Leiter on his site for suggesting things might be otherwise.

159

SamChevre 06.07.11 at 5:18 pm

the claims currently being made are that the NCH will employ it teaching staff on terms significantly better than regular academics get.

If your concern is “legally accurate” and “misleading” isn’t a problem, it would probably be possible to argue that post-doc/temporary/adjunct academics are the “regular” academics. (I think in the US there are more non-tenure-track than tenure-track academic PhDs).

160

BenSix 06.07.11 at 5:30 pm

I can’t help but think that Grayling Hall would be good for other universities. It’ll siphon off the Oxbridge rejects who’d otherwise spend their time in other splendid institutions bitching about their failure to enter Oxbridge. The veneer of respectability would suit them.

(Based on extensive anecdotes from friends at Durham and Warwick.)

161

Chunter 06.07.11 at 5:30 pm

142:

You are correct.

All the while he was a key Middlesex player through season after season, his name having gone down early in cricket’s social folklore when, in days when a sensitive division between amateurs and professionals prevailed, a loudspeaker announcement at Lord’s informed the purchasers of scorecards that they should amend one entry: “For FJ Titmus please read Titmus, FJ.”

(http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/2011/mar/23/fred-titmus-obituary)

162

ejh 06.07.11 at 5:36 pm

Until somebody identifies the match at which that happened, I’m going to treat that story as apocryphal.

163

Planeshift 06.07.11 at 5:45 pm

“falling asleep while lecturing to 250+ students”

Prof Michael Cox, now of the LSE and occasional channel 5 appearances, being pissed and alleging BDSM sexual relations between Gen Pinochet and Thatcher was probably more entertaining.

164

jim 06.07.11 at 5:55 pm

#157, #158,

Well, they would say that, wouldn’t they?

No actual college, no actual department within a college, is completely adjunctified. There are always some well-compensated full-time faculty in leadership positions. These are the faculty whose names are known, whose names are publicized. Gemes, Goulder and Lipscomb — the “subject area convenors” — are already identified by NCH as being these kinds of faculty. They “will recruit, lead, train and develop teaching staff”. It’s the train and develop piece that sounds suspicious.

165

dsquared 06.07.11 at 6:07 pm

ERRATUM ALERT!

I’ve just found out (from David Wallace, on the Leiter Report comments, and my thanks go out to him for not being nasty about it) that the calculation in #140 is utterly tonto, because the college fee was phased out and abolished in 2008, so the £6k state subsidy is not there.

However … (sigh of relief) bright sparks will notice that the tutorial system still exists, and this is because I massively underestimated quite how huge Oxford and Cambridge’s own resources are for funding these things, particularly when supplemented by the massive fundraising campaigns they launched to preserve the tutorial system. The Vice-Chancellor of Oxford estimated that in 2010 they spent £16,500 on educating each undergraduate student, or which about £8,500 came from tuition fees and state subsidy (note that this is per student, not per EU humanities student so the comparison is not exact). The University and its colleges in aggregate had a small financial surplus that year, so the £16,500 figure did not represent a totally unsustainable running-down-capital situation, although I bet that they would have liked to have had more or spent less.

Therefore the broad brush conclusion is about right – post the fee rise and the cut in teaching grants, Oxford and Cambridge are still going to be spending somewhat more per humanities undergrad than the £13,400 I identify as the amount available to NCH from a post-VAT £18k fee. So if Grayling is correct to claim that the humanities are being throttled by the current funding environment and can’t survive, then his college can’t survive either, unless it has some source of significant donation or non-academic income. Which since it’s a profit-making company with no alumni, I am disposed to doubt.

166

jim 06.07.11 at 6:11 pm

One more pressure towards adjunctification:

NCH is not likely to have a good sense of the size (or, for that matter, the subject area preferences) of its entering class until well into clearing. Starting with a small permanent teaching staff and augmenting it once actual numbers are known using temporary part-time faculty on one-year contracts is an obvious tactic for dealing with that uncertainty.

There will, too, be some degree of attrition between the freshman and second years. Second rank private US colleges see a fair amount of this simply because parents actually feel the impact of writing the tuition checks and reconsider the wisdom of private vs. public college. Many UK parents presumably will have been previously socialized into writing large checks for education and there’s no transfer tradition in the UK, but there still might be attrition. NCH management will not have history to quantify their expectations. Again, temporary part-time faculty on one-year contracts will help manage that uncertainty.

Managing uncertainty and saving money. Who could resist?

167

dsquared 06.07.11 at 6:17 pm

NCH is not likely to have a good sense of the size (or, for that matter, the subject area preferences) of its entering class until well into clearing.

Oooh, very good point, Jim

There will, too, be some degree of attrition between the freshman and second years.

Oooh, another very good point. Particularly since this non-university doesn’t control access to the exams – the kids are registered as individuals – so if Mum and Dad decide that a different tutorial college is offering a better deal (or indeed, if the tutor decides to quit NCH but keep on giving tutorials and pocket Grayling Hall’s profit himself) there is very little that can be done to stop them.

168

leederick 06.07.11 at 6:30 pm

“Many UK parents presumably will have been previously socialized into writing large checks for education and there’s no transfer tradition in the UK, but there still might be attrition.”

I think they’d be very vulnerable to this. Your degree’s with the UoL, so you could always drop out the college and go it alone on the £1.5k UoL external fee, or transfer to the UoL internally in your second year, or just use a cheaper tuition provider.

169

Harry 06.07.11 at 6:54 pm

In my dad’s case he would have known that any aspiration to be an amateur was unrealistic.

170

Some Guy 06.07.11 at 8:36 pm

I don’t know anything about academia, but I do know that A.C. Grayling, Michio Kaku, and Bernard Henri-Levy all have the same hair.

171

roger 06.07.11 at 10:07 pm

Well, this all looks like an exorbitant price being put upon long distance learning a la Phoenix university – or various of the Kaplan tribe. The workers – to make the proposition pay – will be the usual academic proles.
I myself am thinking starting a university in a similar vein. I will offer semi-exclusive access to Youtube videos of Lectures by Very Important Thinkers, plus, for an extra thousand dollars, hotdogs.

I expect this enterprise to go down in very comic flames, hopefully taking Grayling’s bank account with it. Wasn’t there a similar attempt, in the Thatcher years, to start Conservative Universities on the same profit basis?

172

Chris Bertram 06.07.11 at 10:11 pm

I sincerely hope this doesn’t bankrupt Grayling, because if it does he’ll have to inflict more of his books on us to make a living.

173

PHB 06.07.11 at 11:39 pm

I can see a profitable return on the investment for the right student.

Observe that the Grayling student is going to be (1) of rich parents and (2) not bright enough to get into a regular established university.

That sounds like a good starting point for gold-diggers and fortune hunters of both sexes. All they need to do is to go into the program with the objective of finding a marriage partner with inheritance prospects considerably better than their own and concentrate on heirs/heiresses as their defacto major.

174

Mike Otsuka 06.08.11 at 6:57 am

dsquared @ 165:

If Oxford spends about £16,500 per undergraduate, then I think it spends about £15,000 per undergraduate in the subjects that the NCH will be teaching (economics, English, history, law, and philosophy).

Here’s how I arrived at this figure:

Based on their estimate of how much it costs to teach them, HEFCE divides students into four groups: A = clinical medical courses; B = physics, chemistry, biosciences, engineering (plus some others); C = performing arts, mathematics, modern languages, architecture, archaeology, psychology (plus some others); D = everything else, including all of the NCH subjects.

HEFCE assumes that a Group C student costs £1,185 more to teach than a Group D student, a Group B student cost £2,766 more to teach than a Group D student, and a Group A student costs £11,853 more to teach than a Group D student.

They also tell us that, in 2010-11, Oxford had 457 Group A undergrads, 3163 Group B undergrads, 2376 Group C undergrads, and 4024 Group D undergrads, for a total of 10,020. Source: Table D of http://www.hefce.ac.uk/finance/recurrent/2010/data/tables/granttablesjuly2010_0156.xls (I’ve ignored part time students.)

I multiplied the number of undergrads in each group by the amount extra it costs to teach a given undergrad in that group, added these together, and then divided by 10,020. I think (and please correct me if I’ve made some mathematical blunder) the resulting figure is the amount extra it costs to teach the average Oxford undergraduate, when measured against the benchmark of how much it costs to teach a Group D undergraduate. That figure is £1,695.

So if, as their V-C maintains, Oxford spends about £16,500 per undergraduate, then it spends that amount minus £1,695 per economics, English, history, law, and philosophy undergraduate. Or about £15,000.

175

dsquared 06.08.11 at 7:14 am

makes sense to me. So if (big if), NCH can get its admin and premises for the same rates as Oxford and we assume that the stuff about paying above-market salaries isn’t true, then it’s ballpark spending about the same amount. Ish.

176

Tim Worstall 06.08.11 at 7:25 am

“This would, in my opinion, be a good model for much of higher education: pass UofXYZ exams for courseEc and you get a UofXYZ course credit for courseEc, regardless of whether you sat at home with a computer or paid $20K a year at a good college to prepare for those exams.”

Isn’t that actually what the University of London external degree program model actually is?

As far as I can see Grayling Hall’s model is simply to be (with “star studded academic names”) yet another crammer to get people through those exams. There are certainl tens, if not hundreds, of places around the world that teach to the U London LLB on this model…..

177

Anon 06.08.11 at 11:16 am

The dark side of the brights….

178

Chris Williams 06.08.11 at 4:25 pm

Grayling attempts to answer critics, digs self further into hole:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2011/jun/07/ac-grayling-new-college-teaching

Grayling also hit back at his critics, complaining he felt persecuted: “My whole record, everything I have written, is turned on its head. Now I am a bastard capitalist. It is really upsetting.”

Another antinomian, then. The buggers are everywhere.

179

dsquared 06.08.11 at 4:58 pm

I am glad to see that at least one person is already receiving an expensive education from NCH.

180

Mrs Tilton 06.08.11 at 7:54 pm

dsquared @179,

it’s for this sort of thing that CT really needs to add a Fb-style “like” button.

181

Leinad 06.09.11 at 4:59 am

ditto Chris @172, NCH is at least contributing to the lulz

182

ajay 06.09.11 at 8:26 pm

The dark side of the brights….

Play fair; if you’re going to go for the “this story demonstrates the essential evil of a religious group I happen to bigoted against” tactic, you should at least note that Ronald Dworkin is Jewish.

183

sg 06.09.11 at 9:55 pm

It seems everyone’s suspicions have been confirmed – from the above Guardian article we have Professor Colley telling us:

David Cannadine and myself offered support to the New College because higher education in the UK needs more diversity and this enterprise – if it takes off – should create new posts for junior lecturers at a time when they are very badly needed

But is it wise to advertise the fact that teaching at your 18k a year elite college will actually mostly be done by junior lecturers?

184

Douglas Knight 06.10.11 at 1:03 am

The negative reactions from Birbeck, Dawkins, and UL surprise me. Did Grayson not discuss things with them ahead of time? Or are they fair-weather friends? Dawkins’s reaction seems implausible to me; the institutions just seem surprised.

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