Pearson College: 'Enterprise, endowing education, is not new'

Pearson, the international publisher and education firm, is opening a higher education college, where a business and enterprise degree course will be offered.

It will become the first FTSE 100 company to directly deliver degrees in the UK.

I was fortunate enough to attend the University of Bristol - a fine institution funded from the profits of that great city's slave and tobacco trades; the tobacco bit was vested in the great Wills dynasty. Ergo, the Wills Building, Wills Memorial Library and Wills Hall of residence.

My brother's first job was selling Rootes motor cars - Hillmans and Sunbeams. That company's surplus profits built Warwick University.

The Morris Motor Co opted for the name 'Nuffield' when they endowed a new College at Oxford whilst the Radio Rentals multi-millionaire owner stuck with his surname when he established 'Robinson College'.

And Nottingham University owes much to the curative skills of Boots, the now departed, Chemists. I don't think any of these fine seats of learning have suffered from their funding antecedents.

Enterprise, endowing education, is not new; rooted in the Victorian-Edwardian notion of capitalist philanthropy, it is as common as muck.

But, save for roses, it does much more good.

So long as that which Pearsons, owners of the FT and once the fiefdom of an aristocratic Sussex family, offers is vetted and found to be sound, it is not revolutionary.

It's payback time in a rich tradition of giving.