Blithering idiocy over Grayling Hall

Speaking before the event, protester Mark Bergfeld said: \”This college will be nothing more than a bastion of the rich. It represents the full marketisation of higher education.\”

Err, yes?

Another protester, who gave her name as Rosa, said: \”It\’s a symptom of the new system the Tories want to introduce where education is just accessible to an elite few.\”


Look, anyone can sign up with the University of London external degree department and study for the same degree. They supply the books, CD Roms, online courses and do the examining all for £1,500 a year for an undergraduate degree (Masters etc are £920 a module, you usually need 10 modules to get the Master\’s). Library and student union access is a further £20 a year.

What Grayling etc are offering for their extra £16,500 a year is tutoring to get you through that degree. Like many other companies do, both here in the UK and abroad.

Now perhaps Rosa could explain to us all how people paying for private tutoring, not drawing upon public funds to do their degree, diminishes the ability of those who do rely upon public funds to take their degree?

And as for Marky, look, this is what the University of London has been doing since 1836. This is precisely why it was set up. So as to provide an examining board and degree accreditation for member colleges. It\’s exactly what the Webbs did when they set up the London School of Economics: hmm, OK, we\’ll do the teaching the way we want to do it but we need a university to actually award the degrees.

Aha! U of London, just the ticket!

Drivelling nonsense from these people. This is what the University of London is for: to provide degrees and examinations, to assure standards, for alternative colleges and study methods.

6 thoughts on “Blithering idiocy over Grayling Hall”

  1. In mydreams the tories want an education system which is not controlled by an elite few. This proposal is a modest step in that direction- I’m not surprised at the elite few and their stooges complaining!

  2. I like the idea of a system that draws a reasonably clear line between teaching and examining – I gather it’s a feature entirely lacking in the US.

  3. dearieme (#2) – a division between teaching and examining is also entirely lacking in most UK universities.

    The collegiate structure at Oxford allows for that division, but at mine I teach, set the exams and mark them. From conversations with people teaching elsewhere I gather that’s the norm.

  4. Mind you, I always thought the London External prices were high.

    Looking at their example (for economics, as it happens ( the annual fees are around £1,000 for 4 papers, i.e. £250/paper.

    Costs of that are:

    The courses I’ve looked at don’t provide a textbook (you have to buy your own), but there is a ‘study guide’ that tells you what to read. Let’s say that can be written & produced for the cost of a cheaper textbook – £45

    setting exam:
    say 2 days to write the exam, 1 day to agree it with 2nd markers etc., @ £45/hr, but shared between 200 students on a course – £5

    say £500 per half day to hire a hall, 4 invigilators for 4 hours @£10/hour, but shared between 200 students – £3

    20 minutes, say £45/hour = £15

    2nd marking (sample only), agreeing marks between examiners, etc.:
    say 1 day @ £45/hour, between 200 students on a course: £2

    (processing check; sending exams out; sending scripts out to markers; processing marks; sending out marks).
    Quite a lot overall, but divided between a lot of students. Let’s say it takes 10 fte members of staff (more at exam time, but almost nothing most of the year), cost £40k each inc. premises costs, shared between the 50,000 students, each doing 4 papers:

    postage – £5

    That’s £77 cost vs a £250 fee.

    A 200%+ mark-up isn’t bad, especially since there’s no premises costs for the students (just an admin office).

    Plus there’s an extra £372 in the first year, to cover application & initial admin (and what can that cost? surely no more than 10 minutes of an academic and an hour of an administrator, plus a few quid for postage; £30 tops?)

    Not that there’s anything wrong with making money out of education, but the protestors seem to think there is.

  5. dearieme-
    Not sure what level of examinations/grading you are citing, but all “professional” qualifying examination and the grading of same, e.g., Engineering, Law, Medicine, Accounting, Nursing, etc. are not administered by Universities in the USA.

  6. The whole notion of this new institution is flawed and vague. There is no apparent need for another university for ‘gifted’ undergraduates, much less at elitist fees. Brainiacs can and will go to Oxbridge if they have any sense, Glasgow, Edinburgh or Dublin at a fraction of the cost. The first test of intelligence should be whether anyone has the intelligence to work this put, thus Anyone who applies to Nobwarts Academy either has more money than sense or can’t get into the top tier.

    So Nobwarts will largely cater for overseas dimwits, provided the government lets them in on its new restrictive visa regime. These putative brainiacs are studying humanities subjects, allegedly under the aegis of pop philosopher AC Grayling, who will presumably keep his posts elsewhere, and godfearing Dawkins, who will presumably keep his post in Peinceton. My guess is that they won’t get much bang for their bucks.

    The definition of ‘ gifted’ appears to be the amount of gifts which will be bestowed upon the Master of Nobwarts and his mercenaries by the witless fee payers and those daft enough or politically impelled to invest in this crass, unnecessary and odious recipe for failure. We are truly in the Age of Stupid and I fear AC has done a Ryan Giggs with his career.

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