A group of the world’s leading academics have launched a new British university which they hope will rival Oxford and Cambridge, it was announced today.
New College of the Humanities (NCH) will charge fees of £18,000 a year and offer the ”highest-quality” education to ”gifted” undergraduates, according to its creators.
The privately-funded independent seat-of-learning will be based in Bloomsbury, central London, and open in September 2012.
It will initially offer eight undergraduate humanities degrees taught by some of the globe’s most prominent intellectuals, college officials said.
Professor AC Grayling, the philosopher who will be the college’s first Master, secured millions of pounds of funding from investors to set up the institution which has been likened to America’s elite liberal arts colleges.
He said: ”At NCH we believe in the importance of the humanities and excellence in education.
”Our priorities at the College will be excellent teaching quality, excellent ratios of teachers to students, and a strongly supportive and responsive learning environment.
”Our students will be challenged to develop as skilled, informed and reflective thinkers, and will receive an education to match that aspiration.”
The college claims to offer a ”new model of higher education for the humanities in the UK” and will prepare undergraduates for degrees in Law, Economics and humanities subjects including History, Philosophy and English literature.
Students will also take three ”intellectual skills” modules in science literacy, logic and critical thinking and applied ethics.
Practical professional skills to prepare them for the world of work including financial literacy, teamwork, presentation and strategy will also be taught.
College chiefs say students will receive a ”best in class education”, with one-to-one tutorials, more than 12 contact hours a week and a 10/1 student to teacher ratio.
Prof Grayling said that budget cuts and dwindling resources are likely to limit both quantity and quality of teaching in the UK, leaving the fabric of society poorer as a result.
He hopes the college – a registered charity – will counteract this.
”Our ambition is to prepare gifted young people for high-level careers and rich and satisfying lives,” he added.
The 14 professors behind the project include evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins and eminent historian Sir David Cannadine. All will teach.
NCH chairman Charles Watson said: ”Higher education in the UK must evolve if it is to offer the best quality experience for students and safeguard our future economic and intellectual wealth.
”New College offers a different model – one that brings additional, private sector funding into higher education in the humanities when it is most needed, and combines scholarships and tuition fees.”
He added: ”As well as securing the highest-quality education for hundreds of students, we believe an independent university college, established right in the heart of London, will contribute to the long-term economic welfare of the capital, attracting students and professors who are contributing to the local economy as well as equipping our graduates for jobs in the service economy, such as the financial sector, professional services, the media and the creative industries, all of which are such vital contributors to the UK economy.”
Prospective students can apply immediately, with the college offering assisted places to more than 20% of the first year’s intake.