In June 2011, A. C. Grayling, a professor of philosophy at Birkbeck College London and a familiar figure in British left-liberal circles, unleashed a firestorm of controversy when he announced the formation of Britain's first fully private and for-profit liberal arts institution, the New College of the Humanities, with himself and a roster of celebrity academics, many based in the United States, at its helm. The new institution—in which Grayling and some other faculty members will be shareholders—charges £18,000 per year in fees, a figure that would amount to nearly six times the current maximum tuition fee “cap” of £3,750 and double the recently raised maximum tuition fees of £9,000 per year for all British universities, which will come into effect for the academic year, 2012-2013. In the absence of its own degree-granting powers, it will teach to the University of London's existing syllabi and offer a degree through the latter's international program while offering what it claims will be a teaching system modeled on Oxbridge tutorials.

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