The New College of the Humanities this week faced vehement criticism and scepticism from students and academics alike.
Many have speculated that NCH, a privately funded university, is the answer to funding cuts to the humanities from the government, and that it will rival to Oxbridge’s teaching standards.
Niall Ferguson, a distiguished television historian who will teach at NCH said to Cherwell, “I am very enthusiastic about this venture and have been reading with incredulity some of the criticisms in the media this week.
“The best universities in the United States are, with a few exceptions, private institutions – not least my employer Harvard. The same can be said about the best secondary schools in Britain.”
Ferguson continued, “Only a fool would oppose the creation of a liberal arts college like New College. Anyone who cares about the teaching of the humanities in Britain should be cheering on Anthony Grayling, and hoping that others will be emboldened to follow his example.”
However, students have condemned the university for the £18,000 annual tuition fee which only a small minority of privileged students will be able to afford.
David Barclay, OUSU President slated the NCH, and stated, “The New College of the Humanities is a clear foretaste of the dystopian future the Coalition Government’s policies will lead the higher education sector into.
“It is an affront to Oxford’s tradition of working to improve fair access to high quality undergraduate education, and yet more cause for the resounding vote of no confidence which we have now delivered to the Government.”
However, Dr Wendy Piatt, Director General of the Russell Group, said, “We welcome competition and we are relaxed about the growth in private universities, like the New College of the Humanities, as long as such institutions do not put significantly increased pressure on the already high-cost student support system.
“It would be unlikely that the NCH could join us if it is to be a teaching-only institution.”
India Lenon, a third year Classicist at New College, commented, “‘The founders claim that their new university will rival Oxbridge, but I’m not convinced this will be the case.
“There will be two sorts of people who apply: students not bright enough to get into a good state-funded university, and students who are spellbound by either the word ‘Oxbridge’ or the ‘big names’ in the new place’s prospectus.”
Oxford Education Campaign have organised a protest next Friday, to greet Grayling when he arrives in Oxford to chair a talk at St. Antony’s College to show their discontent at this “unjust private institution”. OxEd Campaign urge students to “Fill in an application form online, telling them you plan to win the lottery, rob banks, etc in order to pay the 54k”.