Memorial of King's College London

Pages 210-212

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

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Memorial to the Royal Commission on the City Livery Companies for the Council of King's College, London.

King's College.

The Council of King's College, London—believing that the result of the inquiry of the Royal Commission on the City livery companies may probably include some recommendation to the companies to extend that application of their resources to educational objects, which has already been liberally begun—desire, as the governing body of one of the colleges which have for the last fifty years represented higher education in London, to submit to the Commission the claims of King's College, for consideration in any scheme which may be framed for advancing education in London, by the grant to existing institutions of such endowment as may increase their usefulness, by enlarging the scope of their teaching, and by bringing it within the reach of a greater number of students.

(I.) The City companies appear to have had for their chief original purpose the promotion of technical excellence, and therefore 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. Now it is a leading principle in King's College (as also in University College) to promote various branches of technical education, and at the same time to unite these with the pursuit of general (or liberal) education, as giving the necessary foundation for all special professional training. It is, therefore, conceived that the support of such institutions 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. We would gratefully acknowledge the liberal assistance which our own 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.

(II.) But the London colleges are still but inadequately furnished for the important work which they have to undertake. Although considerable sums have been contributed to both colleges for building and other necessary purposes, they still remain almost entirely unendowed as regards the teaching staff; while the assistance offered to students in scholarships, &c. is far from adequate. (fn. 1)

In both respects the London colleges 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, 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. While they are thus cramped in resources, they have received no advantages whatever in relation to the University of London, which—itself discharging no educational function except that of examining—con- ducts its examinations and confers its degrees without any reference to the place or the conditions of study. (fn. 2)

Hence—however valuable the work which has been accomplished—the results are altogether inadequate and unworthy of the great City in which these colleges alone have attempted to fulfil the real duties of a university. The number of our students, although considerable, falls very far short of those in attendance at Edinburgh or Glasgow. At the former university the classes number 3,237; and of these no less than 1,047 belong to the faculty of arts, which represents general culture as distinct from professional training. The Scotch universities, moreover, retain their students for a longer time, the course of study extending over three or four years; and a large proportion of their students proceed to degrees. This success is undoubtedly connected with the privilege of granting degrees directly to their own students, which the universities of Scotland possess; but it is also in part due to the low scale of the fees, which amount to hardly more than a fourth of those charged at our colleges.

The usefulness of these institutions might be indefinitely increased, and they might be raised to a magnitude and importance worthy of the metropolis, if the existing drawbacks were removed, by the aid of the City companies, through such measures as the following:—(a) the reduction of the fees, with a view to extending more widely the benefit of higher education to the middle classes of London; (b) the partial endowment of the professorships, so as to facilitate such reduction of fees, and the foundation of such additional professorships, as may be found necessary to satisfy the growing requirements of professional or commercial education; with ample provision for class teaching by assistant lecturers, so as to meet the increased number of the students, and limit the size of the classes; (c) provision for extension and maintenance of laboratories and the purchase of scientific apparatus, with a view to more thorough practical instruction; and lastly, (d) liberal assistance to poor students in the form of scholarships, which should be dependent on diligence and success in work. It may be observed that the expenses of living in the metropolis, combined with the present cost of education, place the London student at a great disadvantage, which can only be obviated by endowment.

(III.) A brief survey of the educational work at King's College may be appended, as establishing its claim to such support as is contemplated in the above suggestions.

The various departments, now seven in number, which have been successively established since the opening of the college 50 years ago, constitute the college an university in all essential particulars, excepting the right of granting degrees.

(a.) The original departments were those of general literature and science, and of medicine (in addition to the school). The former of these departments provides a liberal education, both of the old classical and modern type, and corresponds to the faculty of arts in the Scotch universities. The latter is an important medical school, having attached to it a hospital, which does service of infinite value to one of the poorest and most neglected parts of London.

To these have been added new departments for more technical education, as occasion has arisen.

(b.) In the year 1838, the department of applied sciences was founded, and its scope has been gradually enlarged so as to provide the scientific training, both theoretical and practical, required for civil engineering, telegraphy, surveying, architecture, and the higher branches of manufacturing art. This combined system of practical and theoretical teaching might be extended considerably beyond its present limits, especially in the direction of the industrial arts, with the assistance necessary for improved teaching appliances, the working expenses of this department (especially in the departments of physics and metallurgy), being of necessity exceptionally heavy.

In connexion with the same department a physical laboratory was established in 1868, under the charge of Professor W. Grylls Adams, for practical study and investigation in all branches of experimental physics; some of the classes being specially designed for the science examinations of the London University, in addition to the individual teaching of students in the various branches of physics, and especially in electrical science. More than 300 students have been trained in the Wheatstone laboratory, many of whom have obtained important posts in the works of some of the leading electrical engineers. (fn. 3)

More recently, schools of practical fine art, of practical art, and of metallurgy have been opened, thanks to the liberal aid received from the City and Guilds of London Institute. The former school includes such branches of decorative art as drawing on wood, painting on china, etching on copper, &c. In order to extend its usefulness, especially for artisans—many of whom already attend the classes—assistance is needed to provide one or more assistant teachers and extra lecturers; also a larger library for reference and additional casts for purposes of study. With such aid the school might accommodate 100 or 150 more students.

The work accomplished in these several departments of practical science and art is so closely connected with the original objects of the City livery companies that we trust that it will be definitely recognised in any plans for the promotion of technical education.

(c.) In 1847 a theological department was created, supplying a branch of higher education, which from the nature of the case could not be represented in University College or the University of London; and through this more than 600 clergy have been trained, chiefly for the service of the metropolis.

(d.) In the year 1856 an evening department was opened, which at first numbered 200, and now numbers nearly 500 students. These classes have been of great benefit to those occupied in business during the day. The curriculum includes almost every subject taught in the college, (fn. 4) and the instruction is thoroughly systematic. The teachers are 36 in number, and nearly all the classes are conducted by professors and lecturers of the regular college staff.

The fees are considerably lower than those of the other departments, averaging about a guinea and a half for the session of five months. This department might, however, be greatly enlarged and the evening teaching opened much more freely to students of the poorer class, by reducing the fees still lower, and by providing gratuitous lectures from time to time on subjects of general interest. For this purpose some endowment would undoubtedly be required, as it is even now found impossible to remunerate the lecturers at all adequately; and it may be observed that the other evening classes which have been recently established are for the most part supported by endowment.

(e.) In 1881 it was resolved to extend the work of the college so as to embrace the higher education of women; and although the new department has not yet been included in the system of the college, yet classes have been for some years at work at Kensington, under the direction of the staff of the college, and on the same principles on which the college itself is conducted.

(IV.) It will be seen that the work which is done in the two great London colleges has grown to a very considerable magnitude; (fn. 5) and the necessary expense of maintaining it taxes most severely their resources, so that the amount left available for the payment of the staff and for teaching appliances is entirely insufficient. It has been thought that the present income would require to be augmented to the extent of half its present amount by endowment, independent of fees, in order to secure to the colleges their proper influence and efficiency as centres of higher education in London. 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 practial teaching; and to supplement the emoluments of the teaching staff by endowment on such a scale as to raise them to the same standard as those of the professors in the other leading colleges or universities in England and Scotland.

The Council trust that, in case of the grant of any endowment through the City companies, the governing body of each college would be left free, by agreement with the courts of the various companies, under any controlling authority which might be created, to dispose of it with a view to the carrying out of these objects.

But it may be desirable to add that, taking the standard of 25,000l. already indicated, the benefits of endowment might be virtually divided between the students and the college itself, under something like the following scheme:—

1. An annual sum of 7,000l. towards working expenses, and towards the maintenance and extension of museums, laboratories, and apparatus, would render it practicable to reduce the fees by about one third on the average.

2. For the purpose of direct assistance to students, a sum of 6,000l. annually would furnish twenty entrance scholarships at 50l., and twenty foundation scholarships at 100l., each tenable for two years. It has been suggested that some of the latter might be connected with special studies, and that pecuniary aid should be specially offered to intending teachers so as to render the college directly useful in stimulating and improving middle-class education.

3. In regard to the endowment of the teaching staff, the slightest examination will show that the present stipends of the teachers are extremely inadequate, as compared not only with those of corresponding positions elsewhere, but with those attached to lower kinds of educational work. In order to meet the necessary expenditure for educational purposes, and to raise the stipends of the teachers to anything like an adequate standard (allowing for the suggested reduction of fees as well as for addition to the teaching staff, in case of increase of number of students), about 10,000l. annually would be required, and a further annual sum of 2,000l. for the purpose of a retiring fund.

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 our 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.


  • 1. The only endowed professorships at King's College are those of Political Economy (48l.) and Chinese (84l.), and those of practical fine art and metallurgy, each of which receives an annual grant of 200l. from the City and Guild's Institute.
  • 2. The University of London originally recognised only University College and King's College, and in fact consisted of those two colleges. Other teaching bodies were subsequently included, and ultimately affiliation was altogether dispensed with, except in the case of the medical degrees.
  • 3. The value of the scientific education given in this department was fully recognised, and its endowment recommended by the Royal Commission on Scientific Instruction and the Advancement of Science. (See Reports, 1871–4.)
  • 4. The following is the list of subjects:—Divinity and Greek Testament, Latin, Greek, Ancient History, French, German, English Language, Literature and History, Italian, Spanish, Geography, Arithmetic, Writing, Mathematics, Commerce and Commercial Law, Chemistry, Practical Chemistry, Mechanics, Physiology, Botany, Experimental Physics, Applied Physics, Mineralogy, Geology, Comparative Anatomy and Zoology, Logic, Political Economy, Public Reading and Speaking, Law, Harmony, Vocal Music, Practical Fine Art, Metallurgy, Practical Metallurgy, Practical Art, Shorthand. In addition to these are workshop classes; these are intended to give practical instruction in wood and iron work as applied to building and engineering construction.
  • 5. The number of students at King's College in 1882 was as follows:—
    Matriculated Students
    Morning Classes 400
    Evening Classes 78
    Occasional Students
    Morning Classes 113
    Evening Classes 352
    The School 611
    Special Classes
    Civil Service 782
    Gilbart Banking Lectures 230
    Workshop Evening Class 22
    Practical Art 25
    Ladies' Classes, about 350