The new British university model?

Well, it’s certainly star-studded. A new private university in London, devoted to the humanities, will have the philosopher and public intellectual A.C. Grayling as its “master.” Richard Dawkins will teach evolutionary biology, Niall Ferguson economic history, Steven Pinker psychology, and Ronald Dworkin the philosophy of law.

Christopher Shea has more.  Daniel Davies notes correctly that few if any of these illustrious names will be resigning their normal academic posts.  That is the real innovation of this business model.  Why not rent illustrious names rather than paying the whole set of fixed costs?  Then hire excellent teachers — mostly not top researchers — to provide most of the actual instruction.  If say Dawkins teaches an intensive two-week course, that is perhaps more than a student would see of him anywhere else, while benefits of certification and affiliation remain in play.  I predict this has a good chance of succeeding, and since the illustrious lecturers hold equity shares in the venture, their incentive is to talk it up.  It doesn’t have to outcompete Harvard, it simply has to draw international interest from students/families who cannot get into Harvard or who do not wish to donate the required $$.


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