The arts and humanities are a necessity, not a luxury. This inspired idea will put culture back at the heart of education.

- Jo Glanville, Director of English PEN

What is THE IF Project?

IF is a ‘free university’: we run free, university-level arts and humanities short courses that are taught by a network of volunteer academics. IF courses use the free cultural resources of the city and include sessions in London’s galleries, archives, museums and concert halls. As a free university, IF is an experiment in no-fee collaborative higher education. It is a community where knowledge is shared, taught, debated and discussed at no cost to students. 

Our principles

We have created the IF project because we believe that:

  1. In today’s higher education landscape, humanities subjects risk becoming an education for the wealthy as the current political emphasis on the future salary advantages of university degrees, coupled with fear of debt, is pushing school-leavers to opt for vocational courses
  2. Access to a basic education in the humanities is a human right.
  3. Giving young people the opportunity to study humanities subjects will enrich their lives and society as a whole. 

The humanities - an education worth having

Studying the humanities is how people get to think about and discuss the big ideas of the day: democracy, identity, beauty, truth, love, death, war. 

We believe that by studying the humanities people also develop the capacity to be creative and critical; discover tools for textual, visual and musical analysis and understand the basics of ethical and rational thinking. Such skills will make them involved and informed citizens, workers and decision-makers. 

Who is it for?

Anyone who finds themselves asking how they should look at a painting or sculpture or why on earth people read classics, or what history is, or how to do philosophy, or how music works... or why any of these questions matter. IF's first courses will prioritise applications from those who have not had the opportunity to study for a degree. 

Our innovative model

By drawing on existing resources, and matching those, IF will offer courses at no cost to the student.

Our courses will

  • Link academics and institutions eager to share cultural expertise to students eager to learn
  • Use London as a giant lecture-hall and guide students to free talks, exhibitions and concerts
  • Work to promote and extend free access to knowledge