Thursday, 23 June 2011

New College of the Humanities - response from our Vice Chancellor

My letter:

Dear Professor Crossick,

I am writing on behalf of UNISON Senate House to express our concern at the recent announcement of A.C. Grayling’s proposed profit-making New College of the Humanities (NCH). In particular we would like to clarify the relationship between the University of London and the NCH.

The NCH website states that students at that college
…will share many resources of the University of London: the exceptional library in Senate House, the University of London Union... (
However, the University of London’s press release on the matter says, among other things:
No agreement has been concluded as yet regarding access to the Senate House Libraries by NCH students.

Can you confirm whether Dr Grayling has made a formal approach to the University? Is an institution-level arrangement being negotiated with the NCH? If it is, on what terms will NCH students be able to use Senate House Library and the university libraries?

We further understand that the NCH expects to use existing academic buildings in Bloomsbury for lecture and tutorial space (!/NewCollegeH/status/77705479219986433). Again, what arrangements are being made with the College regarding use of University rooms?

We believe it would be beneficial not just from UNISON’s perspective but also that of the University and its reputation to obtain as much clarity as possible regarding these points.

Best wishes,

Josephine Grahl
Acting Branch Secretary
UNISON Senate House

Professor Crossick's response:

Dear Josephine

Thanks for your message. I have little to add to our statement, which sets out the basis of the New College of the Humanities connection to University of London International Programmes. I’m attaching that statement for your information as it answers most of your questions. It also explains the character of International Programmes and the ways in which independent teaching institutions relate to it. There is nothing different about the place of NCH in that, whatever Anthony Grayling may have said or left to be inferred.

NCH will not make use of any University premises for its teaching or other activities. I cannot speak for Colleges but am not aware that any have come to an arrangement with him for use of their space.

To answer your final point, I can assure you that staff have worked very hard this week to counter any adverse consequences for the University of London arising from the ways in which the launch of NCH was announced, with a letter in The Guardian and repeated responses as appropriate to inaccuracies identified in press reports. I believe that we have achieved that but we remain attentive.

I hope that this provides the reassurance that you sought, but if you need any further information I suggest that you contact Professor Jonathan Kydd, Dean of International Programmes.

Best wishes,


Professor Geoffrey Crossick
University of London

The press release referred to can be found here.

Monday, 13 June 2011

The Thoughts of Chairman Mabbott

Our Tony's burgeoning media career continues, with another appearance last week on 3 Counties radio.

For all those interested in his pearls of wisdom, he's on from 6pm at

Apparently he has also acquired groupies - mostly middle-aged real ale drinking men, but you've gotta start somewhere...

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

The debate around the New College of the Humanities

Some more information about AC Grayling’s private, for-profit New College of the Humanities, as mentioned in the previous post.

You can see the website for the college
here. Blogger Infinite Thought has a long post explaining how the college will work here, and the Guardian’s first report on the project is here.

A number of problems have been raised. Academic Terry Eagleton criticises the college
here, describing it as a “disgustingly elitist outfit”. Blogger Ads Without Products suggests that the financial model of the college is not viable, a claim also examined by the Guardian here. Meanwhile the Guardian has also reported that the star professors (who include Richard Dawkins, Steven Pinker and Niall Ferguson) may only deliver one lecture a year. Concerns have also been raised about the syllabus on offer, which may have been copied from existing University of London courses.

Although the NCH website implies that there may be links between it and Birkbeck College and the University of London, Birkbeck have put out a press release stating that “Birkbeck has no links with New College and no agreement to provide New College with access to any of its facilities”. The Dean of the University of London International Programmes wrote to the Guardian today to state that “New College of the Humanities (NCH) is entirely independent and is not and will not become part of the University of London”.

UNISON Senate House will write to the Vice Chancellor of the University of London in order to clarify the position of the University towards the New College of the Humanities.

New University of the Humanities - Grayling at Foyles

A. C. Grayling made an appearance at Foyles last night to at which his controversial New College of the Humanities was discussed.

Here's a video about what happened at Foyles.

The video, which is of course selective, rather makes Toby Young in today's telegraph, among others no doubt, look like even more of a fool than he usually looks: ("I was sorry to hear about your spot of bother at Foyles last night, but can’t say I’m surprised. Being shouted down in public by left-wing zealots is the fate of anyone who challenges the educational establishment I’m afraid. Their allegiance to the status quo isn’t based on reason, but on tribal loyalty. Public education is the last redoubt of the hard left and their student praetorian guard will stop at nothing to defend their turf. Their aim is not to persuade you of the errors of your ways, but to terrorise you into renouncing your heretical ideas. They are the secular equivalent of the Taliban’s goon squads").

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