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Peter Hall – co-founder of what became New College for the Humanities

June 16, 2011

In the Guardian today:

Peter Hall, a financier who has donated more than £450,000 to the Conservatives, provided money to set up the for-profit New College of the Humanities, which will be led by philosophy professor Anthony Grayling and staffed by celebrity academics such as the historian Niall Ferguson.

Hall, who has radical Conservative libertarian views, said that as the founding chairman, he provided £200,000 to “breathe life into the idea”. … 

Hall told the Guardian he had backed the project because “my personal view is that the public sector should not be involved in providing services. They can pay for services but it is much better if there’s a creative environment where there’s lots of different types of enterprises competing to provide services.”

Hall… has donated to the Conservatives since 2005, and in return has been given access, with other large donors, to private dinners with leading party figures including David Cameron and George Osborne. In 2007, he lobbied the then shadow education spokesman, David Willetts, whom he had also funded. Hall wanted him to adopt his ideas.
 

Serious doubts will remain about New College of the Humanities until it provides full details of its backers and investors, especially the anonymous ‘Swiss couple’ who own 35%.  Appeal is made to the ethics and integrity of AC Grayling and the ‘founders’ but their equity stakes must be very small.  Hall himself only claims to have 4%.

Even Malcolm Grant, Provost of UCL, in his weekly all-staff newsletter, indicated that his exercise in ironised agnosticism about the project had conditions:

If it is to flourish it will have to promote the highest standards, with an academic rigour and range of intellectual excitement that ranges well beyond the standard requirements of the University of London’s International Programme.  It must have the same transparency of any other university, in terms of admissions requirements, academic appointments and advancement, and its finances. It will need to develop a scientific and a research capability. 

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From → NCH, New Providers

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