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"The £9,000 tuition fees cap won't last – we're biting the bullet first" - Comments

Metamag's Avatar Comment 1 by Metamag

Well, however you turn this Grayling's reputation suffered a serious blow with this.

Sat, 11 Jun 2011 10:13:43 UTC | #637101

troll.'s Avatar Comment 2 by troll.

.

Sat, 11 Jun 2011 10:24:20 UTC | #637103

Cook@Tahiti's Avatar Comment 3 by Cook@Tahiti

Here we go. This will be good for 300 posts.

Sat, 11 Jun 2011 10:25:42 UTC | #637104

mmurray's Avatar Comment 4 by mmurray

“Terry spends three weeks every year at a private university in America charging £27,000 a year and he is paid a whacking great fee for it. The stench of hypocrisy is overwhelming. He is a knee-jerk Marxist.”

Nice.

Michael

Sat, 11 Jun 2011 10:28:10 UTC | #637106

sbooder's Avatar Comment 5 by sbooder

He wishes more universities would become unashamedly elitist

There is nothing wrong with being elitist as long as it is for the correct reasons. If it was set up to be elitist towards intelligence not many would have a problem with that but I am afraid that the price tag lets the whole project down.

Why is it when people have money, they forget what the real world is like. This whole episode makes me feel a little queasy.

Sat, 11 Jun 2011 10:34:08 UTC | #637108

Vicktor's Avatar Comment 6 by Vicktor

(Makes some coffee)

Sat, 11 Jun 2011 10:43:38 UTC | #637113

Cook@Tahiti's Avatar Comment 7 by Cook@Tahiti

I remember reading a biography of Carl Sagan where there was criticism that Cornell advertised a course as being taught by Carl Sagan, and when students enrolled to bask in the glow of the great man, he was hardly on campus.

Sat, 11 Jun 2011 10:43:48 UTC | #637114

Troll,'s Avatar Comment 8 by Troll,

.

Sat, 11 Jun 2011 11:02:34 UTC | #637118

Polesch's Avatar Comment 9 by Polesch

We need schools where some students can excel.

Sat, 11 Jun 2011 11:13:59 UTC | #637119

AtheistEgbert's Avatar Comment 10 by AtheistEgbert

The irony of a left-wing professor doing an interview with the Times behind a pay wall.

Although I fully support the idea of a group of professors starting their own college, because that's what liberalism is all about, I am increasingly becoming baffled by the lack of foresight, cronyism and naivety of those supposedly leading the atheist movement.

While professors may be great at their specialised academic subjects, they're not expert politicians.

With no thought-out political philosophy, with no discussion in the movement, and especially no egalitarian principle in how the movement operate, it is simply falling into irrationality.

It is rather like the naive democratic movement in the Arab world, which is increasingly falling into chaos, because nothing united them other than wanting to be rid of their tyrannical masters.

Accusations about being 'out of touch' are becoming more and more applicable.

Sat, 11 Jun 2011 11:14:02 UTC | #637120

ollipehkonen's Avatar Comment 11 by ollipehkonen

Most of his lecturers appear to be atheists...

So you take a sample from a population where the majority are atheist/agnostic and the sample turns out to have a majority of atheists. Alarm the press! Oh, they are the press... I guess we know who slept through their statistics and probability lessons, or had a creationist statistics professor.

Sat, 11 Jun 2011 11:17:56 UTC | #637122

Vicktor's Avatar Comment 12 by Vicktor

Many people seem to be against the idea of "elitism" when it comes to higher education. However, it seems to me, the worldwide status quo where the smart become smarter and the stupid become stupider sits well with just about everyone. Why is that so? Are not the "weakest" students more deserving of the "best" teachers? Stronger students will probably do fine in any case, so the average intelligence of the population should rise. I think a case for that argument could be made; at least it's worth considering.

Sat, 11 Jun 2011 11:25:54 UTC | #637125

Ramases's Avatar Comment 13 by Ramases

Comment Removed by Author

Sat, 11 Jun 2011 11:47:37 UTC | #637128

Ramases's Avatar Comment 14 by Ramases

Comment Removed by Author

Sat, 11 Jun 2011 11:48:36 UTC | #637129

liq's Avatar Comment 15 by liq

Comment 12 by Vicktor :

Many people seem to be against the idea of "elitism" when it comes to higher education. However, it seems to me, the worldwide status quo where the smart become smarter and the stupid become stupider sits well with just about everyone. Why is that so? Are not the "weakest" students more deserving of the "best" teachers? Stronger students will probably do fine in any case, so the average intelligence of the population should rise. I think a case for that argument could be made; at least it's worth considering.

Some people dont care that they are "stupid", they are quite happy to have a 9-5 minimum wage job that lets them have a beer after they clock off. I dont see anything wrong with that but I dont think the best teachers should be used on them.

Sat, 11 Jun 2011 11:50:31 UTC | #637130

Ramases's Avatar Comment 16 by Ramases

I am astonished that Richard and AC Grayling can support a project of this kind, one that bases entrance to an academic institution on wealth and ability to pay rather than academic ability. I am particularly surprised by Grayling, who styles himself as an ethicist.

This kind of college is another nail in the coffin for academic excellence and can only increase social and educational inequity.

Comment 12 by Vicktor : Many people seem to be against the idea of "elitism" when it comes to higher education. However, it seems to me, the worldwide status quo where the smart become smarter and the stupid become stupider sits well with just about everyone. Why is that so? Are not the "weakest" students more deserving of the "best" teachers? Stronger students will probably do fine in any case, so the average intelligence of the population should rise. I think a case for that argument could be made; at least it's worth considering.

Victor, you have entirely missed the point.

The kind of elitism encouraged by this kind of institution is not the elitism of academic excellence, but its opposite - the privelaging of money above academic ability as a criteria for entry. This will downgrade the academic community, making entrance to it dependent on money not brains.

As I said, it is astonishing that Dawkins and Grayling are supporting the tory agenda in this way.

Sat, 11 Jun 2011 11:54:41 UTC | #637131

Vicktor's Avatar Comment 17 by Vicktor

Comment 16 by Ramases

The kind of elitism encouraged by this kind of institution is not the elitism of academic excellence, but its opposite - the privelaging of money above academic ability as a criteria for entry. This will downgrade the academic community, making entrance to it dependent on money not brains.

But that is my point. Just as not all of us are as wealthy, not all of us are as smart. It's trading one kind of elitism for another.

Sat, 11 Jun 2011 11:58:54 UTC | #637132

mmurray's Avatar Comment 18 by mmurray

Comment 10 by AtheistEgbert :

The irony of a left-wing professor doing an interview with the Times behind a pay wall.

I must have missed the memo from left-wing HQ that said privately run newspapers had to give away all their articles free. I hope they sent it to the Guardian so I can get their electronic edition free now and get my money back on the Guardian iPhone app.

Michael

Sat, 11 Jun 2011 12:02:26 UTC | #637134

Alan4discussion's Avatar Comment 19 by Alan4discussion

Comment 13 by Ramases

The kind of elitism encouraged by this kind of institution is not the elitism of academic excellent, but its opposite - the privelaging of money above academic ability as a criteria for entry. This will downgrade the academic community, making entrance to it dependent on money not brains.

I think this has already been largely achieved by the fee structure which was supported by politicians well beyond the Tories.

Apart from in Scotland, the days when the most able were supported at university to produce expert leaders in their fields, are gone. The most able can now expect a large debt liability for their efforts, accompanied by a vague promise that they MAY be offered a higher income sometime in the future (- or unskilled jobs or unemployment in a shambolic market economy).

As long term research and academic excellence has never been particularly well financially rewarded, - with the whole political agenda about penny-pinching cost cutting, this looks very dubious.

Sat, 11 Jun 2011 12:06:55 UTC | #637136

Cook@Tahiti's Avatar Comment 20 by Cook@Tahiti

Comment 17 by Vicktor :

But that is my point. Just as not all of us are as wealthy, not all of us are as smart. It's trading one kind of elitism for another.

That's right. People should know their place.

Sat, 11 Jun 2011 12:07:47 UTC | #637137

Nunbeliever's Avatar Comment 21 by Nunbeliever

Well, I stand by the opinion that these students probably won't get their money's worth anyway. They have all these fancy guest-lecturers, but the people who will actually tutor the students and spend the most time with them will be "ordinary" university teachers anyway. They will have a few hours with some famous person like Dawkins every now and then, but the rest of it I am afraid probably won't differ all that much from ordinary universitites. How deep can these lectures be anyway if they are guest-lecturers. I have a strong feeling that a great part of these lessons will be live repetitions of what these famous scientists and academics have already written in public essays, books or lectures available for free. I get this whole hype feeling regarding this. I am pretty damn sure they could have been able to find people who are not household names but who are nonetheless capable of giving at least as good lectures as these twelve giants. And they would definately have more time to spend on this project. Face it. These twelve people won't invest all that much time into this project after all. It won't be their main occupation. The other thing to remember is that we are not talking about advanced post-graduate studies. The general level of their studies is by necessity not all that high to begin with. It feels like a huge waste of resources to have the a bunch of top-authorities in their respective fields lecture people who will not even become scientists or necessarily even professional academics in first place. I am not saying they won't give great lectures. I am just saying there are most likely other less famous people who would be willing to invest a lot more of their time into this project while being just as good teachers... if not even more so due to their ability to invest a lot more time.

Sat, 11 Jun 2011 12:24:41 UTC | #637142

Teknical's Avatar Comment 22 by Teknical

What is the difference here between buying your education and buying an expensive car? If you (or daddy) can afford it then go and get it.

There is of course the eternal hope that they actually teach some people who are worth the expense and that they take worthy candidates who have a degree of intelligence but no money.

Just like real life then eh?

Sat, 11 Jun 2011 12:28:06 UTC | #637145

Stevehill's Avatar Comment 23 by Stevehill

Growling has a point. In the 1970s Britain had a university student population of about 250,000, and they had to get some pretty serious grades and pretty hard, not dumbed-down, A-levels to get there.

Now we have 2 million students. We're (ab)using universities as a statistical device to keep unemployment off the books.

These are choices a democracy is free to make, and we did. But if you want also to defend the principles of academic excellence, then you have to defend "elitism" against that background, because most students are going to get a bog standard, plain vanilla degree in a bog standard institution. And providing a gold standard to all is something taxpayers are quite simply not prepared to pay for: you want it, you pay for it yourself. We (taxpayers) have enough battles to fight in the current climate.

Unfortunately, he's also right that within 5 years all the Russell Group universities will be charging £18,000 a year too. So unless they want to face charges of hypocrisy in the very near future, they ought to be somewhat muted in their criticism of NCH.

Sat, 11 Jun 2011 12:36:19 UTC | #637146

Marc Country's Avatar Comment 24 by Marc Country

The answer is, there is no difference, Teknical. The people who bleat and wail about this non-issue are, like Terry Eagleton, total hypocrites. Moo, baa...

Sat, 11 Jun 2011 12:38:51 UTC | #637147

Marc Country's Avatar Comment 25 by Marc Country

Let me register my surprise (and disappointment) that Niall Ferguson is connected to this project, or, more surprisingly, that the other esteemed lecturers wold allow themselves to be connected to him.

This is the same Niall Ferguson who wrote a widely circulated opinion piece which blamed terrorist attacks in Britain on... wait for it... a DECLINE IN CHRISTIANITY!!! Yes, that's right, folks, according to Ferguson, it is this 'moral decline' towards atheism that makes Britain a target of extremist violence.

Here was MY response to his column, which I wrote as a letter to the editor back in 2005:

Bertrand Russell, leading British philosopher of the 20th century, famously said, “I would never die for my beliefs because I might be wrong.” Instead of praising the British tradition of rational skepticism and resistance to fanaticism, Niall Ferguson, after outlining the “recent” decline of Christianity in West Europe (and Britain in particular), outrageously seeks to blame secular humanists, not just for allegedly rendering themselves “easy targets” for terrorism, but also for supposedly empowering the fanatics who would do them harm (“Britain’s loss of faith empowers fanatics,” Ideas, Aug. 3). This article is yet another bigoted diatribe against any and all non-Christian beliefs. Characterizing atheists and non-Christians as “heathens,” as Ferguson does twice in this article, is nothing more than a slur, deserving no response. Writing of what Ferguson terms “our God and our beliefs” is both arrogant and insulting. So is the characterization of non-Christian rituals as “mumbo-jumbo” (the clear assumption being that Christian rituals, such as prayers, baptisms, or perhaps exorcisms, are not “mumbo-jumbo”). His assertion that “de-Christianization has created” a “moral vacuum” is unsubstantiated and absurd. Christianity does not have a monopoly on morality, and never has. Ferguson’s stated inability to grasp “where else such a thing” as an ethical framework “is available in Modern Europe” speaks only of his own biased limitations, and says nothing of the literally countless ethical guidelines (religious, philosophical, or otherwise) that one might reasonably prefer to Christian doctrine. To quote Russell again, “The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts.” In seeking to blame the latter group, Ferguson merely shows us that he belongs to one, or likely both, of the former.

Ferguson's involvement in the college would seem like a far more appropriate thing to protest, here.

Sat, 11 Jun 2011 12:46:46 UTC | #637153

Ramases's Avatar Comment 26 by Ramases

Comment 19 by Alan4discussion :

I think this has already been largely achieved by the fee structure which was supported by politicians well beyond the Tories.

Apart from in Scotland, the days when the most able were supported at university to produce expert leaders in their fields, are gone. The most able can now expect a large debt liability for their efforts, accompanied by a vague promise that they MAY be offered a higher income sometime in the future (- or unskilled jobs or unemployment in a shambolic market economy).

I am quite aware of this Alan, but what surprises me is to see Richard and AC supporting this agenda.

Sat, 11 Jun 2011 12:50:26 UTC | #637155

Zelig's Avatar Comment 27 by Zelig

"Terry spends three weeks every year at a private university in America charging £27,000 a year and he is paid a whacking great fee for it. The stench of hypocrisy is overwhelming. He is a knee-jerk Marxist. These are my folk, I am from the Left. We all began as utopians, thinking that if we owned the means of production we could make the world a better place, but then we learnt how hard it is to do that.”

"Every philosophy which believes that the problem of existence is touched upon, not to say solved, by a political event is a joke". (Nietzsche).

Let me see if i've got this right? A politically inconsequential number of people think that education should be free for all. Therefore it doesn't happen. Of the main political parties, the Tories are routinely dismissed as unprincipled money-grabbers, the Lib-Dems as cynical opportunists. That leaves the Labour party, the party who took us into Iraq on a lie, yet subsequently won the next election!

Where's the mystery? Where's the controversy? Where are all the humane, enlightened, ethical, and progressive people when you need them? Why don't they cohere into a political force and advance their agenda? Answer: because they are, in truth, very few in number, and are dwarfed by the actors among us. Let the comedy continue . . .

Sat, 11 Jun 2011 13:12:13 UTC | #637161

Zelig's Avatar Comment 28 by Zelig

Comment 1 by Metamag :

Well, however you turn this Grayling's reputation suffered a serious blow with this.

"Reputation" among who? Among fellow actors and dreamers?

Sat, 11 Jun 2011 13:15:24 UTC | #637162

AtheistEgbert's Avatar Comment 29 by AtheistEgbert

Comment 25 by Marc Country :

This is the same Niall Ferguson who wrote a widely circulated opinion piece which blamed terrorist attacks in Britain on... wait for it... a DECLINE IN CHRISTIANITY!!! Yes, that's right, folks, according to Ferguson, it is this 'moral decline' towards atheism that makes Britain a target of extremist violence.

Here was MY response to his column, which I wrote as a letter to the editor back in 2005:

It is a shame you did not post a link to the offending article, whilst condemning Niall Ferguson. Is this the article that you're referring to?

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/personal-view/3618721/Heaven-knows-how-well-rekindle-our-religion-but-I-believe-we-must.html

Sat, 11 Jun 2011 13:18:26 UTC | #637163

Vicktor's Avatar Comment 30 by Vicktor

Comment 21 by Nunbeliever

Well, I stand by the opinion that these students probably won't get their money's worth anyway. They have all these fancy guest-lecturers, but the people who will actually tutor the students and spend the most time with them will be "ordinary" university teachers anyway.

What they are mainly "paying" for (if they had to pay, that is) is the reputation of the institution which will earn them lifelong respect and better employment prospects. This is how society "rewards" intelligent students and "punishes" the less intelligent ones. This is why people of low or average intelligence at the time they were students looking for placements in universities generally have to work harder to prove themselves the rest of their lives, as compared to those who simply carry even the 20-year old validation of a top institution. The vast majority of top institution alumni, in fact, do not happen to change the world in any positive and significant way, but they automatically get to ride on the coat-tails of the relatively few (and I mean few) from those institutions who do.

Sat, 11 Jun 2011 13:34:16 UTC | #637168