§ MR. EWART,
in moving for leave to bring in a Bill to open the benefits of Education in the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge to students without obliging them to be Members of a College or Hall in those Universities, said, that as most hon. Members were aware, in former days students were allowed to live at the Uni- 1705 versities without belonging to any College or Hall. Colleges were intended for the cheap education of students, instead of which they enhanced the cost of it There were said to have been at one time 30,000 students at Oxford, and as many at Paris. Colleges and Halls, under the name of Hospitia, were afterwards founded. The famous College of the Sorbonne still survived; so did our Colleges and Halls at Oxford and Cambridge. In Germany, Italy, and Franco free access was allowed to the Universities without obliging students to belong to any College, and education was there very much cheaper than in this country. In Scotland and Ireland the same privilege was enjoyed with the same result. He would appeal, in support of his case, to the testimony of the Commissioners who inquired into the system of University education at Oxford. The Commissioners stated in their Report that—No skill or vigilance in colleges would reduce the cost of living so low as it can be by the ingenuity and interest of a student.Professor Wall said—It is to the admission of students to the University, without connection with a college or hall of any kind, that I look for the greatest good to the University, the Church, and the country.Professor Vaughan stated—Lodging-houses connected with the University, though not with colleges, would extend the University system. I think such a change would at this moment be opportune, as well as advantageous.In the University of Aberdeen the average expense of a student for five months was £20 or £25. A great many Scotch students were obliged to work in the farm in vacation, and this witness stated that—One who holds the plough and cuts the harvest is one of the best scholars that ever was within the walls of a University.He was struck the other day in reading in The Times a quotation, from a letter which referred to Scotch students in Aberdeen, to the effect—In reference to the Senior Wranglers who have come from Aberdeen during the last few years, it is no disparagement to say that the majority of them have roughed their way upwards from the very humblest ranks of life. Unless parents among the working classes in England are brought to feel the importance of educating their boys—and education is realized as a parental duty—the Wranglers will still come from the other side of the Tweed.It might be said that immorality would result from the lodging-house system; but precautions might be taken to have licensed lodging-houses. Wealthy students could 1706 lodge in Professors' houses. Dissipation would be beyond the means of the poor. He considered that the measure he proposed was at once a Liberal and Conservative one. Liberal because it threw open the portals of the Universities; Conservative because it revived the usages, and restored the original character of those venerable institutions. He was convinced that it would promote the lasting interests of the Universities and the nation.
§ Moved, That leave be given to bring in a Bill to open the benefits of education in the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge to students, without compelling them to be Members of a College or Hall in those Universities.—(Mr. Ewart.)
§ MR. BERESFORD HOPE
said, he did not rise at that stage to oppose the Bill; but, as a son of one of our Universities, must really protest against the system which was growing to such a height in that House of dry-nursing those institutions. It seemed to him that the Universities were far more capable of knowing what they wanted, and of carrying out the necessary measures for supplying it, than certain hon. Gentlemen opposite, all of them devoted friends to those venerable corporations, according to their own account of themselves. He did not dispute the archaeology of the hon. Member in what he had said of the University system in ancient tiaies—Chronica si penses cum pugnant Oxonionses,Post aliquot menses volat ira per Angligcnenses;which meant that the students of Oxford in the Middle Ages were very much like the gentlemen who now met on Saturday afternoon in Trafalgar Square. The Universities had by their charters and constitution great recuperative powers, which the University Reform Bills of the last twelve or fourteen years had increased, and they had since been actively engaged upon measures of Reform. If it should be desirable to admit external students at Oxford and Cambridge, both Oxford and Cambridge had it in their own power to provide for their admission. If that change were to be carried out, he ventured to say that the method of doing it best suited to Oxford would on that very account not be the method best suited to Cambridge, a University which possessed, though some people seemed to forget it, its own system and its own traditions. Fourteen years ago there was an Oxford Reform Bill, which he was willing to believe was very much wanted. A year 1707 afterwards a similar Bill for Cambridge, which was not so much wanted, was brought in and hurried through almost sub silentio, because it was thought by Members to be only the second series of the novel of the preceding season. Oxford and Cambridge had ample means of acting for themselves in that matter; and that being merely a question of University discipline, if they saw fit to admit external students, they would do so without leave or licence from the hon. Member for Dumfries. Still, he desired to see what the Bill was before raising any opposition to it. He trusted that he would then find it merely nugatory, and not mischievous. Better than nugatory he could not expect it to be.
§ SIR WILLIAM HEATHCOTE
also desired to sec the Bill, and had no intention to oppose its introduction. Not only had the Universities power to do that which, as far as he could gather, the hon. Member for Dumfries (Mr. Ewart) desired to do, but at that very moment the question was under consideration at the University of Oxford, whether or not it was fitting to adopt some such plan as the hon. Gentleman's measure purported to effect. It might, he thought, be safely left to the University authorities to consider the mode of extending the benefits of those institutions.
said, that at Aberdeen, in consequence of the numerous small bursaries that existed, persons had been enabled to go through a University education who could not have had any prospect of doing such a thing on this side of the Tweed. He had presented a petition a few years ago from seven parochial schoolmasters in Aberdeenshire, whoso salaries were exceedingly small, and out of the seven no fewer than five were Masters of Arts who had gone through the University of Aberdeen. Pie could also name a score of persons who, by means of the bursary system in the Aberdeen Universities, had risen almost from the labouring class of Scotland to the highest possible literary and scientific eminence. The system, however, he was sorry to say, had been injuriously affected by the recent changes connected with the union of the colleges at Aberdeen.
§ MR. EWART,
in reply, said, he did not, of course, object to the Universities effecting improvements themselves; but he maintained that that House had a right to see that good measures were adopted, as 1708 far as they could be, in those great institutions.
§ Motion agreed to.
§ Bill ordered to be brought in by Mr. EWART, Mr. NEATE, and Mr. POLLARDURQUHART.