State schools miss out on Grayling's 'elite' university

The first intake for the £18,000-a-year college is weighted heavily towards independent schools

When Professor AC Grayling announced plans to open a private university in London, complete with celebrity lecturers and fees of £18,000 a year, he was subjected to vitriolic responses from students and academics alike.

Now, a look behind the door of the New College of the Humanities has revealed an unashamedly "elitist" institution that will specifically target students who failed to get a place at Oxford or Cambridge.

Recruitment figures for the new university, released for the first time yesterday, showed that only 22 per cent of those offered a place were from state schools. That compares with just under 60 per cent at Britain's most selective public universities.

Professor Grayling said he did not reject the epithet "elitist", arguing: "If you are being treated by a consultant or in the hands of an airline pilot, would you not want them to have been trained at an elitist institution? We are elitist, not exclusive."

About 30 guest – or "celebrity" – lecturers will deliver 110 lectures a year (80 in the first year) at the new institution in Bloomsbury, central London. They include Professor Richard Dawkins, who will lecture on evolutionary biology and science literacy, and the TV historian Niall Ferguson.

Professor Grayling also baulked at the suggestion that fees at his college – which will offer its students degrees from the University of London – were excessive. He predicted that the current £9,000 a year cap on tuition costs would soon rise, saying it was "nowhere near" what universities needed to charge to cover their expenditure. "Our fee is going to look very ordinary in a few years time," he said.

Professor Grayling, a philosophy don and one Britain's best-known intellectuals, acknowledged that his target audience consisted of students who had the necessary qualifications and talent to get into Oxford or Cambridge but had failed to secure a place.

"At Oxford, there are over 17,000 applications – of which 12,000 get interviewed and 3,500 are offered places," he said. "There are very, very good people out there who will benefit from what we have to offer here – people who generally come from that constituency."

In all, 91 offers have been made to students starting this September, of whom 47 will pay full fees; 37 have been offered "exhibitions" and will pay £2,400 a year, while seven have been offered full scholarships, meaning they will receive their tuition free.

The 91 were selected from 350 applicants. Of those offered places, 66 per cent were from independent schools, 8 per cent were not directly from schools (including some wanting to switch from other universities) and 4 per cent were mature students.

The college will be offering a second tranche of places in June. The overall intake in September would be "no more than 180 to 200", Professor Grayling said. It will eventually build up to 1,000 students. The college has had particular success in recruiting students from academy schools. NCH staff have visited 130 secondary schools since September to encourage pupils to apply – 21 per cent of which were state schools, mostly selective grammars or academies.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
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 Education

Recruitment Genius: MIS Officer - Further Education Sector

£20000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Operating throughout London and...

The Jenrick Group: Maintenance Planner

£28000 - £32000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: Maintenance...

The Jenrick Group: Project Manager

£35000 per annum + Pension+Bupa: The Jenrick Group: We are recruiting for an e...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £35K - £45K: SThree: SThree Group have been we...

Day In a Page

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there