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Grayling College Cambridge

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In little over nine months, A C Grayling’s bastard lovechild – new college of the Humanities – will open its doors for the first cohort of open-minded glaze eyed students.

 For those who have not heard of this new institution, an alleged university which it is quite obviously not, then it is simply summed up as follows: A brand new university where you are taught by the upmost levels of the UK and US intelligentsia, a place where one does more than learn – you become learned.

This is but a fantasy, the NCH is undoubtedly the outcome of Mr Graylings desire to go down in history as the founder of an institution – I beg the question, can an institution be founded on the basis of the solipsism of a public intellectual? Sadly it can, but should it?

No. For it is not even a University. As a student at NHC you will in fact be required to sign up to the University of London wherein all of your real bread and butter lectures will be run. Becoming an international student of the University of London will give you access to all the resources of the greater university, made up of the separate colleges (KCL, etc.). However, it should not be forgotten that students at Kings College London have access to a rather excellent Humanities Department, Reputable University and all the other facilities – for only £9000, half the price of NCH.

And it is cost that is by far the most damning indictment against this project. At £18000 a year, one might initially be rather incredulous – might we assume that it is twice as good as Cambridge or Oxford, the arithmetic suggest such – but this soon fades when we guess that this princely fee includes accommodation and the like. Alas, there is no such joy. Using the estimates from the NCH we can estimate living expenses of approximately £12,000 for a 40 week term. So it all comes in at £90,000 for a three year degree. I can say quite confidently that talking to Mr. Grayling for 40 hours a year is – or would, be much fun – not worth an extra £40,000.

To give them a defense, they are offering a number of scholarships for students who cannot afford these outrageous fees. But the scholarship is merely for the fees which constitutes only about 60% of the yearly cost. £12,000 cannot just appear from no-where for anyone whose parents earn less than £50,000 combined (at the unbearable bone scraping absolute least). This excludes outright about 60% of the population*, meaning for every one of the next statesmen that NCH produces, another and the left leg of a second are lost for being too poor.

The promised teaching too is bordering on the very edge of being an outright lie. Most of these lectures’ will do very little, having a few handfuls a year of large packed lectures for your doubled fee. Some, perhaps, will be much more involved in the tutorial business (a one on one session on the discussion of a pre-completed essay) but are they really going to be there in the same way that Professors at the other top universities are? Will Mr Grayling be available 9-5 in his office, can I pop in to see Dr Laurence Klaus to discuss the meaning of life, the universe and everything? No is the answer, because they are all busy pseudo-celebrities (and quite rightly, they are all very interesting people).

For the final time, that question of motivation rears its disingenuous head. Why has a whole new university been proposed? Why has he not merely solicited donations to be to build ‘Grayling College Cambridge’, this would continue to provide places for intelligent university goers and would be under the wing of the – in my opinion meritocratic – great university? I think Mr Grayling is suffering a mid-life crisis, needs an heir, and some business men have been foolish enough to support him.

I am not against private Universities as an axiom, but, we need to combat against this terrible lie, for Mr Grayling is appealing to the cult of personality to sell his new endeavor. And however tempting that personality might be, castles built on quicksand soon perish, but take with them the resources they devour.

 

*Calculated from ’08 sources (http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/stats/income_distribution/3-1table-jan2010.pdf).

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