Memorial of University College London

Pages 183-184

City of London Livery Companies Commission. Report; Volume 1. Originally published by Eyre and Spottiswoode, London, 1884.

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University College.

University College, London. Memorial to the Royal Commission on the City Livery Companies.

The Council of University College, London, desire to submit to the Royal Commission on the City Livery Companies the claims of University College for consideration, if, as the result of the deliberations of the Commission, any scheme should be framed which might include recommendation of a larger use of the funds of the Companies for the advancement of higher education in London.

The City Companies, in the aids hitherto given by them, appear to have had for their chief purpose the promotion of technical education. But by undertaking the direction and support of public schools, by the provision of scholarships at the Universities, and by other means, they have always recognised the importance of general education and its claim to some support from the resources entrusted to them. It is therefore conceived that the support of such institutions as University College and King's College, London, may naturally find a place among those objects to which the resources of the City Companies may be in part devoted; and, indeed, their claims have already been recognised by the companies, both directly and through the City and Guilds Institute. The Council would gratefully acknowledge the liberal assistance which University College has already received from many of the companies, and the signal services which they have rendered to education, both in London and the Provinces.

Although considerable sums have been contributed to the two London Colleges for building and other necessary purposes, they are very unfavourably placed, not only as compared with the older universities of Oxford and Cambridge—whose annual aggregate income is believed to amount to 750,000l.—but even in comparison with the new provincial colleges which have been, or are being, founded, with the aid of private endowments, in Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Birmingham, Sheffield, Newcastle, Bristol, Nottingham, and elsewhere. In many of these colleges the professorships are endowed to the extent of 300l. or 400l. per annum in addition to students' fees. The University of Glasgow has recently succeeded in raising, through private munificence, the sum of 260,000l., which has been augmented by a grant of 140,000l. from the Government, for the construction of new buildings. The students of this and the other Scotch universities receive liberal assistance in the form of bursaries and prizes, amounting in all to not less than 20,000l. per annum.

The Government contributes annually to the Scotch universities 18,992l. for the purpose of augmenting the salaries of the professors; to the universities and colleges of Ireland sums amounting in the aggregate to 25,836l.; and the Royal Commission on higher and intermediate education in Wales have recommended annual grants of 4,000l. to the University College of Aberystwith and the new college to be founded at Cardiff, together with further contributions to meet the expenses of building. Thus the London colleges have been completely left behind in respect of endowments and are obliged to depend for their income mainly on the students' fees.

The Council would submit to the Royal Commission that the past history of University College, London, and the value of the educational work it has already accomplished with the relatively inadequate means hitherto at its disposal, afford good grounds for believing that its usefulness is capable of much further development, and that it would be to the advantage of the public if it were placed in the possession of such funds as would make this development possible. In support of this opinion they beg leave to add the following short statement of facts:—

University College was founded in 1826, and opened in 1828. For the first ten years it bore the name of "The University of London," it having been the aim of its originators to establish a fully-equipped university in London, after the type of the universities of Germany or Scotland, in which instruction should be given by means of professorial lectures, and which should have legal powers of conferring academical degrees upon its own pupils. After the teaching functions of a university had been for some years successfully discharged by the new institution, as well as by King's College, London, the importance of rendering university degrees accessible in London was recognised by the Government, and the present University of London was founded in 1836. Its functions were, and are, to conduct examinations and confer degrees upon properly qualified candidates, but not to teach. On the same day the body to which the name University of London had hitherto belonged received a charter of incorporation as "University College, London."

The professorial body of University College was originally divided into two Faculties, the Faculty of Arts and Laws and the Faculty of Medicine. The instruction given in the Faculty of Arts and Laws was chiefly based upon the long-recognised subjects of a liberal education; but from the first greater prominence than had as yet been afforded to them in the older Universities of this country was given to modern subjects of study, such as English and modern European languages, and to pure and applied Science. In 1840 a Professor of Civil Engineering (Charles Vignoles) was appointed; in 1841 Professors of Architecture (Thomas L. Donaldson) and of Geology (Thomas Webster) were appointed; in 1844 a Professor of Practical Chemistry (George Fownes); in 1846 a Professor of Machinery (Bennet Woodcroft); in 1847 a Professor of the Mechanical Principles of Engineering (Eaton Hodgkinson). In 1841 the Birkbeck Laboratory of Chemistry was built. This was the first laboratory established in England for the purpose of affording practical instruction in Chemistry. Within the last year a new and much larger chemical laboratory has been opened in the recently erected north wing of the College, and the Birkbeck Laboratory is now devoted to practical instruction in Applied Chemistry under Professor Charles Graham.

In 1867 a single room was set apart as a physical laboratory. This was the first laboratory opened in London for instruction in Practical Physics; but the extent and nature of the accommodation afforded were far from satisfactory. As the result of subsequent extensions of the College buildings, it has since become possible to devote additional rooms to this purpose; but the space is still insufficient, and in many respects ill adapted for the purposes to which it is applied. It may be stated that Practical Physics is a subject which, in proportion to the number of persons engaged in the study of it, requires more space and more expensive and elaborate arrangements than any other branch of science, and that the building of an adequate physical laboratory is one of the purposes for which University College is urgently in need of funds.

In 1878 an engineering laboratory was established, and the scheme of instruction which has been organised in connexion with it by Professor Kennedy has been worked with such success that additional space for the engineering department is already much needed.

In the same year Dr. Charles Graham was appointed Professor of Chemical Technology, and in the following year (1879) Professor Kennedy added Mechanical Technology to his previous subject, Engineering. The importance of the work to be done in connexion with the Chairs of Chemical and Mechanical Technology in University College has been generously recognised by the City and Guilds of London Institute, by which an annual grant of 200l. is made to each, an aid which has already produced valuable results

A School of Fine Art was opened at the college in 1872 as the result of a bequest from the late Mr. Felix Slade. The instruction given in this department includes drawing and painting from both the living model and the antique, as well as etching and modelling.

In 1868 a society, known as the Ladies' Educational Association, was established for organizing systematic courses of lectures to ladies; and as a guarantee of the quality of the instruction thus given, the association made it a principle of their action that their lectures were to be given by members of the teaching staff of University College. The work of the association began with two courses of lectures only, and was carried on for the first three years outside the college walls. In 1871 the classes of the association were transferred to University College by permission of the council, but they did not form any part of the college scheme. In 1878, however, the council formally adopted the education of women as a regular part of the college work, except in the classes of the faculty of medicine.

During the last three sessions the number of students in the college (exclusive of the boys' school) has been as follows :—

In the Faculties of In the Arts and Laws of Faculty

Session. of Science. of Medicine. Total.
1878–79 731 366 1,097
1879–80 789 352 1,141
1880–81 834 355 1,189

These members give an average for the three years of 1,142 for the total number of students in the college, and of 785 for the number attending the classes of the faculties of arts and laws and of science.* Judged by this standard, University College alone is on an equality with all but a few of the largest British or Foreign universities, and surpasses many of great repute.

As evidence of the quality of the instruction given in University College, we may refer to the names of those by whom the principal professorships have been held since the foundation, and to the large number of men who, having received a substantial part of their education in the college, have attained eminence in various careers. Evidence to the same effect is afforded by the records of the degrees and other distinctions obtained by pupils of the college at the University of London; and testimony of another kind was borne by the Royal Commissioners on Scientific Education, especially in their fifth report, dated 4th August, 1874, who said that, "after carefully reviewing the evidence laid before them with regard to University College and King's College," the Commissioners were of opinion that they have established a claim to the aid of Government, which ought to be admitted." They added, "we think that such Government aid should be afforded, both in the form of a capital sum, to enable the colleges to extend their buildings when requisite, and to provide the additional appliances for teaching which the advance of scientific education has now rendered absolutely necessary; and also in the form of an annual grant in aid of the ordinary working expenses of the colleges."

Almost without exception the Government of every European country but England has recognised it as essential to the national progress and welfare that there should be in the metropolis a teaching university. Previous to 1826 London was without a university even in name; and it was remarked by Thomas Campbell (who, more than any other one man, has a right to be called the founder of the original university of London) that London and Constantinople were the only two capitals in Europe that were in this case.

As already mentioned, the State-supported University of London, founded in 1836, exercises no educational functions except those of examining and granting degrees. University teaching has not yet received any official support or recognition in London, but has been left to the unaided efforts of the friends of University College and King's College. So great, however, is the public necessity for such teaching, that, even under these conditions and with their present inadequate means and appliances, the two colleges have an average attendance of more than 2,000 regular students.

To enable the two London colleges properly to do the work that lies before them as the teaching part of the University of London, the present income would require to be augmented to the extent of half its present amount by endowment. Such increase may be estimated at about 25,000l. annually for each college. This endowment should be so employed as to effect a considerable reduction of the present scale of fees, wherever it may be possible; to provide for largely increased aid to students; to improve the appliances for practica. teaching; to provide for the teaching of those higher branches of study which cannot be omitted from the curriculum of a university, although they cannot be made self-supporting; to supplement the emoluments of the teaching staff, and to provide for its extension.

Taking the sum of 25,000l. already indicated, the benefits of the endowment might be virtually divided between the students and the college itself, under something like the following scheme:—

College General Fund, in compensation for the reduction of fees by about one-third their present amount 4,000
For maintenance and extension of college buildings and for general working expenses 2,000
Libraries (including salary of a principal librarian), museums, instruments, and apparatus 3,000
In aid of academic stipends 8,000
Retiring fund 2,000
Scholarship 6,000

The 6,000l. thus assigned to scholarships should be applied chiefly or entirely in two ways :—(1) Entrance scholarships to poor students; (2) Scholarships to enable advanced students to prolong their university course. A certain number of the entrance scholarships might, probably, with advantage be offered specially to those who had been pupils in the Board schools of London or the Provinces.

It is thought that such an apportionment—assigning nearly half the total endowment through scholarships and reduction of fees to the direct benefit of the students—would provide adequately for the public interest; and that the City Livery Companies, to whose munificence University College is already indebted, would regard such an endowment as entirely consistent with the educational objects to which their resources are already in considerable measure devoted.

29th April 1882.

The average number of boys in the school during the same three years has been 798.