Leading British academics are to launch a private university aimed at rivaling Oxford and Cambridge that will charge tuition fees of £18,000 ($30,000) a year, a report said Sunday. New College of the Humanities, in London, will be modelled on elite liberal arts colleges in the US, The Sunday Times newspaper reported. The university, which will begin its first undergraduate courses in 2012, is reportedly being funded by millions of pounds from private investors secured by eminent British philosopher A. C. Grayling. Fourteen leading academics are backing the project and will teach at the university, including evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins and historians David Cannadine, Linda Colley and Niall Ferguson, said the report. Grayling will become full-time master of the college, which will initially offer around 200 places to undergraduate students to study English, history, philosophy, economics and law degrees, it said. He told the paper that the university would offer weekly one-to-one tutorials that other institutions were struggling to maintain due to cuts to government funding. \"Top universities are desperate to maintain the model as much as they can, but it is under pressure because it is so expensive and time-consuming,\" he said. The introduction of a new university comes after the government last year pushed through a massive hike in tuition fees at English state-run universities, allowing them to treble what they charge to a maximum of £9,000 annually.