Northeastern University - London

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

New College of the Humanities
TypeUndergraduate, postgraduate
EstablishedIncorporated 2010; announced 2011; offering tuition from September 2012
Endowment£2.5 million (2014/15)[1]
Officer in charge
Rob Farquharson (COO)
FounderA. C. Grayling
Undergraduates300 students
51°31′15″N 0°7′19″W / 51.52083°N 0.12194°W / 51.52083; -0.12194Coordinates: 51°31′15″N 0°7′19″W / 51.52083°N 0.12194°W / 51.52083; -0.12194
OwnershipNortheastern University

Northeastern University – London (formerly New College of the Humanities) is a university in London, England. It was founded as a private college by the philosopher A. C. Grayling, who became its first Master.[2] The college, which grants undergraduate and taught master's degrees, is owned by NCH at Northeastern Ltd., a subsidiary of Northeastern University, a private American research university based in Boston, Massachusetts, which acquired the college in February 2019.[3][4] A year later, in February 2020, NCH at Northeastern Ltd. was granted its own taught degree awarding powers. The college became publicly funded in August 2020. The college specializes in the humanities, social sciences, and master's degrees at the intersection of the humanities and technology.

Its name was changed to "Northeastern University – London" after regulatory approval by the Office for Students in July 2022.[5]


A. C. Grayling, professor of philosophy at Birkbeck College until June 2011, secured NCH's funding

The liberal arts college bases its pedagogy on the Oxbridge tutorial model.[6] Initial reports said it aimed to offer an education to rival that of Oxford and Cambridge,[7] but Grayling said this had been blown out of proportion by press hyperbole.[8][9] He said he had the idea for the college years ago when he was admissions tutor for an Oxbridge college, and the university was turning down 12 good interviewees for every successful one.[10]

Grayling himself completed his first degree in philosophy in the 1970s as a University of London external student.[11] He argues that there is not enough elite university provision in the United Kingdom, leading thousands of British students to study in the United States instead.[10] He told The Independent that the headmaster of Winchester College, an independent secondary school, had said many of his best students failed to get into Oxbridge because of government pressure to increase the number of students from state schools.[12] Grayling has criticised English state examinations, arguing that A-levels do not measure ability adequately.[13]

Grayling said David Willetts, the universities minister, was told of the project in 2010, and appeared enthusiastic.[14] NCH Limited was first named Grayling Hall Limited (after A. C. Grayling and Peter Hall), incorporated in July 2010 and registered at an address in Peckham, south London. The name was changed to New College of the Humanities in February 2011.[15][16] The warden of New College, Oxford, asked Grayling to change the name again to prevent confusion with the Oxford college.[2]

From September 2012 to September 2015, it offered tuition in economics, English, history, law and philosophy and politics and international relations for undergraduate degrees with the University of London International Programme.[17] From 2015 it ran its own degree programmes, validated by Southampton Solent University.[18] Its "Diploma of New College of the Humanities" is earned alongside the various combined BA and BSc degrees by completion of courses in applied ethics, critical reasoning, science literacy[19] and LAUNCH, its professional development programme.[20]

The college's founding attracted a substantial response in the UK, where most higher education institutions are publicly funded, and a significant amount of adverse publicity. London's mayor, Boris Johnson, welcomed it as a bold experiment, while The Times argued that higher education has been a closed shop in the UK for too long.[10][21] There was an angry reaction from sections of the academic community. Complaints included that NCH had copied the course descriptions of the University of London's international programmes on its website; was offering the same syllabus with a significantly higher price tag; and that the senior academics involved with the project would in fact do very little of the teaching.[22] Academics were also opposed to the college's for-profit structure and high tuition fees.[23]

In 2016 NCH announced that it would be offering its first postgraduate qualification from that September, an MA in historical research and public history validated by Swansea University.[24] In 2017 the college launched three additional master's degrees, the MA Economic Policy & Communication, MSc Global Politics, and MA Philosophy.[25]

In February 2020, NCH was awarded renewable taught degree awarding powers for an initial period of six years.[26] In August 2020 these became indefinite after NCH was registered by the Office for Students as a publicly-funded higher education provider.[27] Following the award of indefinite degree awarding powers, NCH announced in 2021 that it would seek university status and permission to use the name Northeastern University – London.[28][29] This was granted in July 2022.

Funding and governance[edit]

Initial "seed capital" of £200,000 for the project was provided, according to British newspaper The Guardian, by the financier Peter Hall.[30]

£10 million in private equity funding was subsequently raised to cover costs for two years, with the expectation that NCH would break even by the third.[31] Cavendish Corporate Finance LLP were the corporate financiers hired by NCH Ltd. and raised this £10 million from a range of private investors including a number of prominent individuals from the world of business and finance.[32][33][34][35]

The college was registered on the UK register of charities in summer 2020.[36]

First cohort[edit]

The first cohort consisted of around 60 students, primarily from independent schools; one in five of the college's offers have gone to state-school students. College staff made 130 visits to schools (21 to state schools) to attract applications.[37][38] They graduated in 2015.[39]

College structure[edit]

Facilities and fees[edit]

The Registry, Bedford Square

The college initially was based in a building called The Registry in Bedford Square, Bloomsbury. As of August 2021, the college is based at Devon House, St Katharine Docks, London.[40] Students have access to the City of London Libraries, Northeastern University's online library resources, and Senate House Library.[41] It block-books rooms for its first-year students with student accommodation providers.[42] NCH has offered classes since October 2012.[17] Its annual fees for home students are £9,250.[43]

Degrees and teaching[edit]


The college offers tuition for 56 undergraduate programmes featuring major and minor options in Art History, Creative Writing, Data Science, Economics, English, History, Law, Philosophy, Politics and International Relations, and Psychology as well as a single honours Law LLB, as well as the Philosophy, Politics and Economics BA and Philosophy, Politics & History BA. In addition, its undergraduate students complete courses in applied ethics, critical reasoning, science literacy, and a professional development programme called LAUNCH.[44] The science literacy course includes as its teachers, Richard Dawkins teaching evolution, Steven Pinker lecturing about the brain, and Daniel C Dennett lecturing on consciousness.[45] It also offers master's degrees; MSc Artificial Intelligence with a Human Face,[46] MSc Digital Politics & Sustainability,[47] MA Philosophy & Artificial Intelligence,[48] MA Philosophy,[49] MSc Computer Science.[50]


NCH holds a provisional award in the Teaching Excellence Framework, indicating that it "meets rigorous national quality requirements for UK higher education ... but does not yet have sufficient data to be fully assessed."[51]

In the 2017 National Student Survey, NCH achieved student satisfaction scores above the London members of the Russell Group of universities in 26 of the 27 categories.[52]

In May 2014 it was reported that independent research that replicated the annual HEPI academic experience survey showed that the college's academic experience had exceeded the expectations of 63% of its students. This was more than twice the comparative statistic (28%) for Russell Group university students of humanities and social sciences in the HEPI 2014 annual student experience survey.[53] The same research also showed that NCH students experienced 40% more contact time than their peers at Russell Group universities, that they completed twice as many assignments, and that they received feedback on their assignments in person more than twice as often.[54]


Grayling said he had received 900 expressions of interest from potential students and 80 job applications in the first week.[14] Britain's former prime minister, Tony Blair, endorsed it;[55] and London's mayor, Boris Johnson, called it the boldest experiment in higher education in the UK since the foundation in 1983 of the University of Buckingham, the UK's first private university; he wrote that it showed the way ahead for academics demoralized by government interference with admissions procedures and "scapegoated for the weaknesses of the schools."[10] The Times argued that higher education has been a closed shop in the UK for too long, that all over the world there are excellent universities run independently of the state, and that in its conception NCH is teaching by example.[56] The Economist wrote that there is a market for the idea because of the increasing number of qualified British students who fail to get into their university of choice, in part because of pressure on the top universities from the Office for Fair Access to increase the number of students from state schools; they added that "a 'toffs’ college' of well-heeled Oxbridge near-misses is a provocative concept."[57] The Harvard historian Niall Ferguson, one of the college's partners, said he had read the criticism of NCH with incredulity: "Anyone who cares about the humanities will be cheering Anthony Grayling."[14]

The news triggered accusations of elitism. Literary critic Terry Eagleton called the college "odious", arguing that it was taking advantage of a crumbling university system to make money;[58] Grayling responded that Eagleton himself teaches a few weeks a year at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana, USA, a private - though non-profit - university.[8][59] Lawyer David Allen Green, writing in the New Statesman, described NCH as a "sham" and a "branding exercise with purchased celebrity endorsements and a PR-driven website."[60] Several academics complained in a letter to The Guardian that its creation was a setback for the campaign against the current government's policy of commercializing education, and were joined by 34 of Grayling's former colleagues at Birkbeck, who questioned how much teaching the college's 14 academic partners would actually do.[61] Terence Kealey, then Vice-Chancellor of the University of Buckingham, suggested it was dangerous to have a university funded by private equity, citing the possible collapse in 2011 of Southern Cross private nursing homes.[62]

Toby Young argued in The Daily Telegraph that the reaction was part of a left-wing campaign to retain state control over education, involving, he wrote, public sector unions, university lecturers, and the Socialist Workers Party.[63] Simon Jenkins wrote that the country's professors, lecturers and student trade unionists were "united in arms against what they most hate and fear: academic celebrity, student fees, profit and loss, one-to-one tutorials and America."[64]

Grayling responded to the criticism by arguing that NCH is trying to keep humanities teaching alive. He said he felt persecuted by the negative reaction: "My whole record, everything I have written, is turned on its head. Now I am a bastard capitalist. It is really upsetting. ... Education is a public good and we should be spending more on it and it shouldn't be necessary to do this, but standing on the sidelines moaning and wailing is not an option."[65] In a 2012 interview, Grayling also responded to claims that the college was "elitist": "There is nothing wrong with being elite as long as you are not exclusive. You want your surgeon or airline pilot to have been trained at an elite institution."[66]

A dozen protesters heckled Grayling at Foyles bookshop in London on 7 June 2011 during a debate about cuts to arts funding, one of them shouting that he had "no right to speak." A protester let off a smoke bomb, and 100 people were evacuated from the store.[67] Later in the week police removed protesters from a British Humanist Association talk by Richard Dawkins at the Institute of Education.[14]

In January 2012, the UK's Intellectual Property Office objected to the college name being registered as a trademark because of possible confusion with New College, Oxford.[68] The college withdrew the application,[69] and later successfully registered their logo as NCH New College of the Humanities.[70]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Campus close-up: New College of the Humanities, Times Higher Education, April 30, 2015
  2. ^ a b Booth, Robert. "Oxford tries to throw book at new arts college set up by A. C. Grayling", The Guardian, 8 June 2011.
  3. ^ "Tertiary Education Services Limited". Register of HE Providers. HEFCE. Retrieved 23 March 2016.
  4. ^ Redden, Elizabeth (14 November 2018). "Northeastern to Acquire London College". Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved 14 November 2018.
  5. ^ "Regulatory case report for university title for NCH at Northeastern Limited". Office for Students. 20 July 2022. Retrieved 20 July 2022.
  6. ^ "Tutorial Model". New College of the Humanities.
  7. ^ "New university to rival Oxbridge will charge £18,000 a year", The Sunday Telegraph, 5 June 2011.
  8. ^ a b Malik, Shiv. "A. C. Grayling complains of abuse over creation of elite New College", The Guardian, 9 June 2011: "All these people are partners in the enterprise. ... They are people whose advice and expertise and experience will be provided to us because they are actual shareholders in the institution."
  9. ^ For the list of partners and staff, see "Who we are" Archived 8 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine, New College of the Humanities, accessed 10 June 2011.
  10. ^ a b c d Johnson, Boris. "At last, an Oxbridge for those who can’t get into Oxbridge", The Daily Telegraph, 6 June 2011.
  11. ^ Lacey, Hester. "The Inventory: Anthony Grayling", The Financial Times, 10 June 2011.
  12. ^ Lawson, Dominic. "A private sector Oxbridge? Not exactly", The Independent, 7 June 2011.
  13. ^ Hurst, Greg; Sugden, Joanna; Sylvester, Rachel; and Thomson, Alice. "New university founder condemns A levels," The Sunday Times, 11 June 2011.
  14. ^ a b c d Grimston, Jack. "Minister encouraged launch of elite college," The Sunday Times, 12 June 2011.
  15. ^ For registration and change of name, see "New College of the Humanities Limited" Archived 9 August 2011 at the Wayback Machine, Jordan's Business Information Services, accessed 8 June 2011.
  16. ^ "Terms and conditions", New College of the Humanities, accessed 8 June 2011. Archived 9 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  17. ^ a b "British academics launch £18,000 college in London", BBC News, 5 June 2011.
  18. ^ Southampton Solent to validate £18K New College of the Humanities degrees: A. C. Grayling's 'Oxbridge-style' private college strikes agreement with post-92 institution, Times Higher Education, 30 July 2015
  19. ^ "The NCH Diploma". New College of the Humanities. Archived from the original on 18 April 2021. Retrieved 13 August 2021.
  20. ^ "LAUNCH course structure". New College of the Humanities. Archived from the original on 20 September 2020. Retrieved 13 August 2021.
  21. ^ "Experiments in Teaching", The Times, 8 June 2011.
  22. ^ Baker, Simon. "Grayling's plans for tutorials with the stars receive poor notices from disgruntled critics", Times Higher Education, 9 June 2011.
  23. ^ Gentleman, Amelia (26 October 2013). "The £54,000 degree: how well is A. C. Grayling's college doing?". The Guardian.
  24. ^ New College of the Humanities offers its first MA, Times Higher Education, April 17, 2016
  25. ^ "Postgraduate Study". New College of the Humanities. Archived from the original on 12 August 2021. Retrieved 13 August 2021.
  26. ^ "Application for Taught Degree Awarding Powers: NCH at Northeastern Limited (t/a New College of the Humanities)" (PDF). Quality Assurance Agency. Privy Council Decision. Retrieved 24 September 2021.
  27. ^ "Award External Examiner Handbook" (PDF). NCH. p. 3. Retrieved 24 September 2021.
  28. ^ John Morgan (7 July 2021). "New name, campus and courses – but NCH clings to 'Oxbridge' dream". Times Higher Education.
  29. ^ "NCH London Applies for University Title". NCH London. 6 July 2021.
  30. ^ Hughes, Solomon., Evans, Robert and Shepherd, Jessica. Tory party donor Peter Hall funded Anthony Grayling's university: Financier with radical Conservative libertarian views says he provided £200,000 to 'breathe life into the idea' The Guardian, Thursday, 16 June 2011, accessed Nov 2011.
  31. ^ Vasagar, Jeevan. "Doubts raised over the financial model of A. C. Grayling's private university", The Guardian, 6 June 2011.
  32. ^ "Cavendish Corporate Finance: Cavendish Corporate Finance successfully leads the start-up capital fundraising to create the New College of the Humanities, published 12 June 2011 (Accessed November 2011)". Archived from the original on 26 April 2012. Retrieved 29 November 2011.
  33. ^ Booth, Robert. "New university gathers top academics to teach £18,000-a-year degrees", The Guardian, 5 June 2011.
  34. ^ "Charles Watson", Financial Dynamics, accessed 5 June 2011.
  35. ^ Wicks, Nikki. "FD's former CEO Charles Watson to chair controversial university college" Archived 9 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine, PR Week, 6 June 2011.
  36. ^ "NCH at Northeastern Limited". Charity Commission for England and Wales. Archived from the original on 13 August 2021. Retrieved 13 August 2021.
  37. ^ Jeevan Vasagar, "Private-school pupils will dominate elite college set up by A. C. Grayling", The Guardian, 20 April 2012
  38. ^ Robert Booth, "A. C. Grayling's private university to open with just 60 students", The Guardian, 18 September 2012
  39. ^ "Graduates". 4 December 2017.
  40. ^ "The NCH campus". New College of the Humanities. Retrieved 13 August 2021.
  41. ^ "NCH Library Facilities". New College of the Humanities. Archived from the original on 18 April 2021. Retrieved 14 August 2021.
  42. ^ "Accommodation". New College of the Humanities. Archived from the original on 17 April 2021. Retrieved 14 August 2021.
  43. ^ "Fees for Undergraduate Students". New College of the Humanities. Archived from the original on 12 August 2021. Retrieved 14 August 2021.
  44. ^ "Degrees Archive". New College of the Humanities. Archived from the original on 19 April 2021. Retrieved 14 August 2021.
  45. ^ "Science Literacy". New College of the Humanities. Archived from the original on 4 August 2020. Retrieved 14 August 2021.
  46. ^ House, New College of the Humanities Address: Devon; Docks, St Katharine; London; E1w 1lp. "MSc Artificial Intelligence with a Human Face". New College of the Humanities. Retrieved 30 September 2021.
  47. ^ House, New College of the Humanities Address: Devon; Docks, St Katharine; London; E1w 1lp. "MSc Digital Politics & Sustainable Development". New College of the Humanities. Retrieved 30 September 2021.
  48. ^ "Philosophy and Artificial Intelligence - New College of the Humanities". Prospects. Archived from the original on 14 August 2021. Retrieved 14 August 2021.
  49. ^ "Philosophy - New College of the Humanities". Prospects. Archived from the original on 14 August 2021. Retrieved 14 August 2021.
  50. ^ "Computer Science - New College of the Humanities". Prospects. Archived from the original on 14 August 2021. Retrieved 14 August 2021.
  51. ^ "TEF outcomes". Office for Students. Retrieved 24 September 2021.
  52. ^ "NCH London leads London universities". 4 December 2017. Archived from the original on 29 August 2018.
  53. ^ "HEPI/HEA 2014 Student Experience Survey: "vital questions for universities, students and Government"". Higher Education Policy Institute. 21 May 2014. Retrieved 22 July 2015.
  54. ^ "Why NCH?". New College of the Humanities. Archived from the original on 29 May 2014. Retrieved 29 May 2014.
  55. ^ Long, Camilla. "A. C. Grayling: Is it safe to come out now?", The Sunday Times, 12 June 2011.
  56. ^ "Experiments in Teaching," The Times, 8 June 2011.
  57. ^ "One very New College, at a price", The Economist, 9 June 2011.
  58. ^ Eagleton, Terry. "A. C. Grayling's new private University is odious", The Guardian, 6 June 2011.
  59. ^ Terry Eagleton, Excellence in English Distinguished Visitor, University of Notre Dame, June 16, 2011
  60. ^ Green, David Allen. "Grayling's Folly is falling down", New Statesman, 7 June 2011.
  61. ^ For the letter, see "The shame of this 'gated intellectual community'", Letters to the editor, The Guardian, 7 June 2011.
  62. ^ Kealey, Terence. "Don't call these people Ivy League pioneers", The Times, 7 June 2011.
  63. ^ "Welcome to the fight, Professor Grayling", The Daily Telegraph, 8 June 2011.
  64. ^ Jenkins, Simon (9 June 2011). "A. C. Grayling has caricatured British universities. No wonder they're fuming". The Guardian.
  65. ^ Vasagar, Jeevan and Booth, Robert. "A. C. Grayling's private university accused of copying syllabuses", The Guardian, 7 June 2011.
  66. ^ Melville, Caspar (2012). "Saving our universities? New Humanist interviews A. C. Grayling". New Humanist. Vol. 127, no. 5.
  67. ^ Hough, Andrew (7 June 2011). "A. C. Grayling forced to flee smoke bomb protest at Foyles debate on private university". The Daily Telegraph.
  68. ^ Private college faces objection in trade mark bid, BBC News, 23 January 2012
  69. ^ "Case details for Trade Mark 2580647" (PDF). Retrieved 29 November 2020.
  70. ^ "Trade mark number UK00003194592". Retrieved 29 November 2020.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]