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JP Floru: New free university places provided by the free market

By JP Floru

When there is a shortage of supply, rising prices and rising demand, you don’t need a GCSE in Economics to detect the atoms for an infallible business project.   Step forward the New College of the Humanities, a brand new private university in Bloomsbury, London.  The tuition fee will be £18,000; but up to 30% will receive financial help with a substantial number having to pay nothing at all.  The market provides where the state fails.  For the rich AND the poor.

Thanks to the capping of university places, one third of applicants - or 226,000 people - will not be offered a place at a state-sponsored university by this summer.  An estimated 10,000 students from Britain pay to study in America – with numbers rising.  Add to this the fact that at some of our greatest institutions brilliant people are refused places because they are of the politically incorrect class – and the potential demand is of such magnitude that we must be mystified as to why more entrepreneurs have not come up with the idea of setting up a new private university sooner.

Up to now, only two universities in the UK were private: BPP and the University of Buckingham.  Until Labour brought in tuition fees, it was of course virtually impossible to compete with free universities.  Rising fees change the equation.  I think the New College is but the first of many.  Ultimately the competition will make prices go down.

And the quality up.  New College has all the potential of becoming a premier league institution.  It has attracted fourteen of the world’s top academics.  With no track record and high fees I believe New College will go out of its way to up its game.  Contrast this with the absence of incentives for institutions which know that they will be full, no matter what, thanks to the shortage of places created by the state.   It reminds me of how the Scottish Enlightenment took place in a climate where students paid their lecturers directly – underperforming lecturers had to look elsewhere for employment.

Hats off to Professor AC Grayling, who will be the first Master of the College. 


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