Northeastern set to take over New College of the Humanities

London institution will take ‘formal name’ of ‘New College of the Humanities at Northeastern’

November 13, 2018
A. C. Grayling

Northeastern University of the US is set to take control of the UK’s New College of the Humanities (NCH) to its list of campuses, with the institution taking the “formal name” of “New College of the Humanities at Northeastern”.

NCH, which has billed itself as offering Oxbridge-style tutorials since it launched in 2012, has been regarded as one of the key new entrants in English higher education, with a clutch of big-name academics attached to the institution.

An NCH spokesman said of the deal that “in effect, they [Northeastern] are going to have ownership” of NCH. The agreement has been signed and has gone to the “relevant authorities for approval” in the expectation that it could be completed in a month’s time, he added.

The Times reports the move as a “merger”, while A. C. Grayling, NCH master, has described it as a “global strategic partnership”.

But NCH, owned by shareholders in a for-profit entity called Tertiary Education Services, has been looking for new investment, or a buyer, since 2014.

The latest Tertiary Education Services accounts make clear that “present student numbers are not sufficient to meet all of the costs of the college” and that it has been relying on a shareholder loan.

If Boston-based Northeastern seeks to considerably grow student numbers at NCH, the move could be significant in bringing a major US institution to compete with English universities.

Professor Grayling writes in a letter to staff and students released by NCH: “We are delighted to announce that New College of the Humanities is entering into a global strategic partnership with Northeastern University, an excellent, Boston-based, research university with regional campuses across North America.” 

He adds: “Following a year of extensive discussions, this partnership will see NCH join Northeastern’s global network, subject to regulatory approvals. NCH will continue to be known as ‘New College of the Humanities’, and its formal name will be ‘New College of the Humanities at Northeastern’.

“Being a partner in Northeastern’s global network, NCH will be backed by an experienced, established, and prestigious higher education institution, which will enable NCH to thrive, evolve and grow, while maintaining its core values.

“Our commitment to a rigorous humanities education including the one-to-one tutorial model remains.”

Professor Grayling says that it is “envisioned that NCH’s undergraduate students will, in the future, have the opportunity to study at one of Northeastern’s network of campuses. We believe that students who choose to undertake part of their undergraduate studies in Boston, Charlotte, Silicon Valley or Seattle in the USA, or Toronto in Canada will relish the experience.”

He adds: “This is just the start of the next phase in NCH’s exciting plans for growth and evolution, and we look forward to telling you about further developments in the coming months.”

john.morgan@timeshighereducation.com

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