AC Grayling on the New College of Humanities: “We have to build institutions that merit endowments, so they can educate the best people”

AC GraylingSaturday’s Guardian has a long profile on the New College of Humanities (NCH), founded in 2011 by the well known Philosopher and Humanist AC Grayling.

The NCH has attracted controversy for its £18,000 per year fees (relatively high for the UK), and the heavyweight names it has attracted to lecture – including Richard Dawkins, Niall Ferguson and Steven Pinker. But AC Grayling insists that the NCH is an important response to the decline of Humanities (slipping off the syllabus in universities in the UK and elsewhere), and an attempt to champion a different approach to ‘mainstream’ university education – one that prioritises an intimate and interactive learning environment. Here’s more from Amelia Gentleman’s article:

“My own politics are on the left,” he says. “I am very sympathetic to the view that education is a great good, that it is the last opportunity that we have to level the playing field, and to move people along from positions of historically induced deprivation and disadvantage. I am absolutely 100% behind that idea, and yet to think that therefore we must not experiment, we mustn’t try something new, we cannot accept the fact that sometimes things cost money… The fact that I have the politics that I have doesn’t mean that I buy the cheapest cardboard shoes I can find. There is this piety about what a higher education institution should be like, so it is nice and clean-handed, and nobody is charging money at the point of contact. It is that attitude – which is a good old leftwing attitude, which I completely sympathise with – which is a barrier to doing anything new or fresh…. The long-term objective of this place, which is that we become a needs-blind institution, is in my humble opinion quite a noble idea. That is what we are trying to do, in the end.”

Click here to read the article.

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