College signs sponsor deal with Penguin

OIL companies may sponsor motor racing and Coronation Street comes courtesy of Cadbury's. Now, a University of London college has signed up sponsorship for some of the greats of English literature.

The study of Joseph Conrad, Virginia Woolf, Charles Dickens and T S Eliot now comes to Royal Holloway College students "in association with" the publisher Penguin Classics, in the latest attempt to bring commerce to the quiet world of academia.

The publisher's famous penguin logo will even grace the Egham college's prospectus under the deal, the first in which a university arts course has been linked to a commercial sponsor. Editors at Penguin now hope that the idea will be taken up at universities across Britain and abroad.

Under the three-year deal Penguin will supply pounds 3,500 worth of books for the college library and offer discounts worth about pounds 40 to students buying classic texts. In return, a string of undergraduate and postgraduate courses will bear the Penguin name.

Royal Holloway's Head of English, Professor Kiernan Ryan, said: "People were anxious about being tainted; that the high spiritual value of literature and poetry was being linked with commercialism, but it's a sign of the times in the new Blairite world. I can hear people's cries of our selling out, but they will be clouded by envy that they did not think of it themselves."

The deal, the brainchild of Dr Robert Mighall, editor of Penguin Classics, and the English lecturer Dr Robert Eaglestone, is part of a trend towards increasing commercial sponsorship of universities. Private-sector finance pays for many university buildings, and controversy has raged over business sponsorship of professorships and research posts.

It is also the latest salvo in the battle for supremacy in publishing. Classic literature has become a million-pound-a-year business. But it is fiercely competitive, with cut-price editions of classic novels attacking the sales of academic paperbacks that include learned essays and footnotes.

Dr Mighall said: "Brand loyalty is the key thing. If academics know they can rely on us to supply what they need, which is reliable and reputable texts, it's worth spending the extra on an edition of Jane Eyre.

"We're aware that students are some of our major customers, and we're keen to put something back into the academic community."

Dr Eaglestone stressed that the deal would not compromise academic freedom. He said: "The English department will always recommend the best edition whether it's published by Penguin or not. This is simply providing more resources to help students learn and help research in the college."

The Association of University Teachers urged caution. A spokeswoman said: "After 15 years of cuts, higher education is forced to accept things it would not have considered 20 years ago. People in universities are using their creativity to find any way to get money."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
Larry David and Rosie Perez in ‘Fish in the Dark’
theatreReview: Had Fish in the Dark been penned by a civilian it would have barely got a reading, let alone £10m advance sales
News
Details of the self-cleaning coating were published last night in the journal Science
science
News
Approved Food sell products past their sell-by dates at discounted prices
i100
News
Life-changing: Simone de Beauvoir in 1947, two years before she wrote 'The Second Sex', credited as the starting point of second wave feminism
peopleHer seminal feminist polemic, The Second Sex, has been published in short-form to mark International Women's Day
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: General Manager

£50000 - £70000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This provider of global logisti...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Manager - £70,000 OTE

£35000 - £70000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Manager (Vice President...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Marketing Executive

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Digital Marketing Executive i...

Recruitment Genius: Finance Assistant / Credit Controller

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are an award-winning digit...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable