london interdisciplinary school
At the London Interdisciplinary school, students will work across different disciplines and address real-world challenges. Source: Shutterstock

Earlier this year, it was announced that a new non-traditional university will be opening up in the UK. However, details were fairly limited over what exactly it would entail.

Now, new details have emerged over what the new progressive-minded school will be offering students. They’re flipping traditional education models on their heads to offer students with a practice-based education that’s not based on subjects or specific units.

According to Financial Times, “A British university that will scrap teaching academic subjects in favour of ‘problem-based’ practical projects is finalising its registration with regulators, paving the way to open in the autumn of 2020.

“The London Interdisciplinary School (LIS) will make all students apply skills from varied disciplines, including psychology, maths and politics, to tackle issues in conjunction with employers such as knife crime and childhood obesity.”

“LIS projects — designed to better motivate undergraduates and prepare them for work after completing their studies — will be developed with companies and other organisations including the Metropolitan Police, Funding Circle, Virgin and Crossrail, which will offer students paid placements.”

Teaching methods will be face-to-face, and about half the time will be spent learning researching methods. The other half will be spent working on projects, whereby topics will include ones that tackle global challenges such as plastics, fast fashion, overfishing, deforestation, growing cities and misinformation.

While many universities today are offering hands-on learning opportunities and interdisciplinary activities, this university is the first to do so in such innovative ways.

Even their recruitment process is progressive, with less focus on academic merit. Financial Times reported, “It will also aim to recruit a large proportion of students from disadvantaged backgrounds by interviewing every applicant and downplay exam results in the selection process.”

Ed Fidoe, a former McKinsey consultant who created LIS said, “We reflect the way the world is going, connecting with real-world problems.”

Hundreds of students have already applied to the London Interdisciplinary School and close to 20 employers have signed up to work with the school for industry-linked projects.

The London Interdisciplinary School has also raised “several million pounds from philanthropists, social investors and backers including the founders of Innocent Foods.”

Will the London Interdisciplinary School be officially approved?

Although the school has been accepting applications and aims to start recruiting more, they have not received official approval from The Office for Students yet, the higher education sector regulation body in the UK. A final decision is expected in the weeks to come.

If approval is given, the school can officially offer three-year degrees, and students will be eligible for student loans to pay for the £9,000 a year tuition fees.

Nick Hillman, head of the Higher Education Policy Institute, a think-tank, told Financial Times, “There’s definitely room for new providers who want to provide education in different ways. But everybody who has tried to get a new higher education institution off the ground has found it much tougher than they thought, in obtaining the right data, getting student loans and ticking the regulatory boxes.”

But the school is well-prepared for any glitches that may interfere with their plans. They have contingency plans just in case the approval doesn’t go through.

According to Financial Times, “It has already drawn up contingency plans to open on a campus in east London even if registration is delayed, with an initial intake of 120, by working with another established university to award degrees.”

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