Atheist Richard Dawkins Helps Launch New Humanities College in London

Famed atheist Richard Dawkins will be among a group of British academic elites who will launch a new college that will rival top British universities like Oxford.

The New College of the Humanities in central London will offer degrees in English, philosophy, history, economics and law starting from fall 2012.

The private college is founded by 14 professors. Richard Dawkins, author of the bestseller The God Delusion, will teach evolutionary biology and a required course on science literacy.

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Other academics include historians Sir David Cannadine and Niall Ferguson, former Oxford professor of poetry Sir Christopher Ricks and psychologist Steven Pinker.

AC Grayling, a well-known British humanist and atheist, will serve as the college’s first master. He is the author of The Good Book: The Humanist Bible, a manifesto for secular humanists that was published in March 2011.

“Our priorities at the college will be excellent teaching quality, excellent ratios of teachers to students, and a strongly supportive and responsive learning environment,” said Grayling.

"Our students will be challenged to develop as skilled, informed and reflective thinkers, and will receive an education to match that aspiration."

Creators of the new institution say it offers a “new concept” in university education.

Students at New College will take core courses in three areas: Science Literacy, Logic and Critical Thinking, and Applied Ethics. In addition to receiving an undergraduate degree in their area of study, students will be granted a Diploma of New College.

Courses will be taught in a staff-student ratio of better than 1:10 and students will receive one-on-one tutorials.

But the distinct educational features come with a hefty price tag. Annual tuition at the college costs £18,000 or roughly $29,384, twice the maximum tuition of government-funded universities in Britain.

Backers of the college say that the government cap of £9,000 or roughly $14,692 on the annual tuition of state-funded universities is not sustainable, the Guardian reported.

New College will follow a business model that will deliver profits to shareholders that include professors and a group of investors.

The Telegraph reports that the college will admit 375 students a year.

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