Malcolm Grant, Provost and President, UCL
United Kingdom

On Sunday 5 June, a private college calling itself the "New College of the Humanities" (NCHUM www.nchum.org) was launched in the UK press. This college promises "one to one tuition" in humanities subjects at the University of London in return for an annual fee of £18,000 a year. Unlike the publicly-funded not-for-profit University sector, this college is set up as a private enterprise paying shareholders dividends.

Simultaneously, Arts and Humanities departments in universities across the UK are in crisis. Government funding for teaching has been cut by 80% and it is doubtful that ordinary working-class UK students will be able to pay £8-9,000 to study subjects such as Philosophy, History, Art, Language and Literature. Universities which specialise in Humanities subjects, or whose intake is primarily working-class, face bankruptcy.

The NCHUM is thus part of the problem, not part of the solution. Should this business model be successful it will likely create a market drive towards similar experiments at the expense of the public sector, in exactly the same way as private wards and BUPA have impacted on the NHS. For this reason the proposal must be opposed.

Vice Chancellors across the University of London have so far been slow to distance themselves from this venture. This petition, open to staff, students and alumni of University College London (UCL) asks that current Provost, Malcolm Grant does just this.

Dear Malcolm

We are extremely concerned about the launching of the "New College of the Humanities" (NCHUM) here in Bloomsbury. As you know, NCHUM is a for-profit company limited by shares, with no degree-awarding powers and no independent research programme, which will charge £18,000 fees per student per year. Far from defending UK humanities teaching, NCHUM is being set up at precisely the same time as many universities' humanities departments face the axe.

We are disturbed by statements you have made that we should not rule out collaboration in the future. The NCHUM is a reactionary project, in the literal sense of harking back to when a gilded few went to University. We believe that UCL's radical tradition requires that we stand up for the principle that Education should be available to those with ability - not mere ability to pay. According to the Office for National Statistics, £54,000 is over double the UK median adult wage in 2010.

We urge you to disassociate yourself from NCHUM, pledge that UCL's premises will not be made available to NCHUM, nor staff encouraged to participate in any way.

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The Open Letter to Malcolm Grant: Say no to the 'New College of the Humanities' petition to Malcolm Grant, Provost and President, UCL was written by Sean Wallis and is in the category Education at GoPetition.