Last of the Westland Whigs

In the late 17th century, the 'Westland Whigs' were the radical descendants of earlier Covenanters who had defied the absolutist rule of Stuart kings in south west Scotland.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

D and G Standard Dumfries College of the Humanities.

Dear Sir,
Richard Dawkins and a group of leading academics created a storm of controversy this week. They plan is to set up a New College of the Humanities in London. Professor AC Grayling, the philosopher who will be the college's first Master, has secured millions of pounds of funding from investors to set up the institution. He said: "Our priorities at the college will be excellent teaching quality, excellent ratios of teachers to students, and a strongly supportive and responsive learning environment. Our students will be challenged to develop as skilled, informed and reflective thinkers, and will receive an education to match that aspiration."

What has created the controversy is that students will be charged £18 000 per year to attend the new college. This has led to accusations of ’elitism’.

In contrast to the extensive media coverage given to the New College of the Humanities, the threatened closure of our ‘college of the humanities’ has created scarcely a ripple of national concern. Since it was established in 1999, Glasgow University’s Dumfries campus has specialised in the humanities -the Liberal Arts of philosophy, history and literature. Myself and hundreds of other students have benefited from a higher education no less stimulating and challenging that that described by Professor Grayling.

Responding to the controversy generated by the New College of the Humanities, the Scottish Government have said that access to education should be based on “the ability to learn rather than the ability to pay”. If so, then rather than allow its loss, the Scottish Government, Dumfries and Galloway Council and other stakeholders should insist that Glasgow University develop and expand their Dumfries campus as an affordable and accessible alternative to London’s New College of the Humanities.

Alistair Livingston


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