I have been teaching philosophy at Heythrop College for seventeen years. This was my first full-time teaching appointment after leaving Oxford. Unlike many academics keen to climb the career ladder - and who consequently tend to migrate from one institution to another at the beginning of their careers - I have stayed put. I have remained here at Heythrop for my entire career. Why?
The answer lies in what I discovered when I arrived here. I quickly discovered just how unique and valuable an institution Heythrop College is.
Coming straight from Oxford, I also very much valued Heythrop’s Oxbridge-style one-to-one tutorial system and the opportunity it gives students to really explore a topic with someone who knows it inside out. When the New College of the Humanities was announced, Dominic Lawson wrote in the Guardian newspaper that what the New College was charging 18 thousand pounds a year for was, in essence, the tutorial system offered by Oxford and Cambridge Universities. Lawson said that the Oxbridge tutorial system was "the single most valuable aspect of their educational offering". But Lawson was wrong to claim that the tutorial system is only otherwise available at colleges of Oxford and Cambridge Universities. The tutorial system also form a significant part of Heythrop College’s undergraduate programmes.
Heythrop is a hive of intellectual activity and world-class research is being done, but when I arrived soon learned that the staff also have that rare quality: they actually enjoy teaching. And they are skilled at it too.
Heythrop is a unique and valuable institution. And philosophy and theology are unique and valuable subjects. Of course these are “challenging times" for humanities degrees.
In support of this, consider the GRE exam scores of those pursuing fifty different science and humanities degrees in the United States. The GRE exam is sat in the third undergraduate year, and has three parts: verbal, quantitative (mathematical) and analytical. How do philosophers fare?
Heythrop is an extraordinary place and it’s time the college received the recognition it deserves. That is something we are now working on vigorously. Heythrop is one of British academia’s best-kept secrets and we are going to ensure that it is a secret no longer.