Professor AC Grayling today hits back against claims that his new private university, which will charge students £18,000 a year, will open the floodgates to the privatisation of higher education. Writing in The Independent, he insists his project is not the "enemy" of state-funded higher education. Instead, he says existing universities have been going down the route of "part-privatisation" for years by charging foreign students high fees for places which could have gone to UK students.
"The fact is that many UK universities, chronically underfunded over decades, have for some time been increasing their overseas student intake to benefit from the full fees they can charge. Our universities are publicly funded institutions yet they are replacing home student places with full-fee overseas places. This is part-privatisation, already in place and increasing all the time."
Professor Grayling, who is giving up his post at Birkbeck College, University of London, to devote himself to establishing the New College for the Humanities, argues the trend shows just how costly it is to provide high-quality university education.
The London School of Economics, where two-thirds of the student body are from overseas, charges up to £22,000 for courses, and overseas student fees at Oxford and Cambridge are similar.