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June 06, 2011


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It's interesting isn't it - I read that the students will have access to Senate House library but I wonder whether they will get as good library rights as UCL students

Goodness -- I've just been looking at it and it seems extraordinarily old fashioned. All you say here is quite right. On the showing of their website I think they have a nerve asking £18,000 for it! The whole thing seems absolutely ludicrous to me.

Verity - yes, for 18 grand I'd hope for a clearer view of exactly what they're entitled to in terms of faciltiites. Maybe that will come, we'll have to wait and see.

Harriet - yes old fashioned is just the right word. I have no problem with traditional but that has to be leavened with something a bit more cutting edge or it is, as you say, just dully old fashioned. It seems to have been written to appeal to those who don't know anything about it, but who write the cheques.

I loved your comment "Literature is a conversation: you can't effectively participate when you join in near the end." I'd argue the same is true of History, another subject which at GCSE and A level at least is subject to being delivered in discrete chunks, leaving the student no way in which to contextualise what they are learning.

I quite agree with your point about the course being aimed at those who pay the bills.

The NCH is NOT a univeristy. It is a private tuition enterprise preparing students to sit UoL External exams like many other 'colleges' do around the world.
The sad fact is that UoL charges around 3,000GBP for registration and exam fees in total . NCH would charge an _additional_ 54.000GBP for the occasional celebademic tutorial.
This has to be the worst educational joke of the decade.

UoL Press Release makes everything clear:

In short:

'There is no formal agreement between the University of London and the NCH concerning academic matters. ..To avoid any confusion, it should be made clear that NCH is not, and will not be, a part of the University of London. Meanwhile it is legitimate for NCH, as an entirely independent institution, to provide tuition to students of University of London International Programmes as other institutions in London and around the world do. These students’ applications for registration for degrees would be made individually with the University of London International Programmes.

No agreement has been concluded as yet regarding access to the Senate House Libraries by NCH students, but financial terms exist for the payment of fees for access by any students of University of London International Programmes and this would, of course, apply to students of NCH. The position is similar for the University of London Union, and it should be noted that all students of the University of London International Programmes are eligible for associate membership for a payment of £20 per annum, but are not eligible to compete competitively in University sports teams.'

NCH website misrepresents its status: it is a for-profit company limited by shares with its venture capitalist directors coyly listed as 'non-academic staff'. The Trust is separate and only covers the studentships.

Grayling et al made a huge blunter. If they hadn't used NCH website to imply -using the worst marketing I've seen in years- that this college was part of the University of London, rather than simply offering tutition for the UoL External degree, he might have got away with it. But then he wouldn't have been able to charge £54,000.

Jane - yes, I see what you mean about history. The school syllabus is especially bad that way. I did a large chunk for my A level with sections from the eighteenth to the twentieth century, so at least with things like parliamentary reform you followed the process almost completely. These days my husband teaches an A level with modules on Henry VII, Peter the Great and the holocaust. It is hard course with a lot of historiography but not much in the way of continuity.

Cristo - thank you for that link and the additional info. I quite see your distinction: "The NCH is NOT a univeristy. It is a private tuition enterprise preparing students to sit UoL External exams like many other 'colleges' do around the world."

It is remarkable, as Jack of Kent points out, that many of the "celebademics" as you call them, live and work abroad and unless they are moving back to London can't be planing to spend much time with NCH students. It is very difficult to see what you get for the 18k. I presume most people who might pay £18000 will not care if it is a profitable venture or a charity but any organisation misrepresenting that status doesn't help its wider credibility.

Thanks for the link to the syllabus - I can't say I'm that impressed by it - it seems to avoid the freedom of the Oxford course, but not have the brilliantly selected modules of, say, Cardiff's. And I know a background in these things is useful, but I do find it slightly odd that the Homer to Shakespeare course is about half non-English literature texts.

Oh, and I did an Anglo-Saxon course, in the original, with about a week on language first! I was not very good at it...

You get a very short exposure to the "celebrity academics" in most if not all cases and being high profile with good publication record does not automatically make you a good teacher. I note (today) an incredibly short list of fullt-me academics, hardly one per subject area! Senate House Library is under considerable threat of closure too. I am completely baffled by the whole enterprise.

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