Historical introduction

Pages v-xvii

University of London: the Historical Record (1836-1926). Originally published by University of London Press, London, 1926.

This free content was double-rekeying and sponsored by University of London. All rights reserved.


Historical Introduction

London was one of the latest of the great capitals of Europe to provide itself with a University. Why this should be so must remain a curious and profoundly interesting question to which, it may be surmised, no single and no completely adequate answer will be given. There was in the Middle Ages a number of scholastic institutions centred in London, and there was apparently a kind of loose association among these of the kind which elsewhere—e.g. at Paris—developed into a University. Possibly it is the existence of this federation which explains the references to a University in London which are met with from time to time. In the appendix to Stow's Annals, 1615, for instance, there is what purports to be, in three parts, an account of the "three famous Universities of Oxford, Cambridge, and London." The author of the third of these treatises, Sir George Buck, enumerates the Gresham foundation, the Divinity Schools at Westminster and St. Paul's, the Inns of Court and Chancery, the College of Heralds, the School of Civil Law at Doctor's Commons, and St. Paul's School, which had been founded by Dean Colet in 1510, as forming collectively a complete academic system, and "lacking nothing but a common government and the protection of an honourable Chancellor" to give to it the unity and repute of a University. The ancient Inns of Court and Chancery themselves are also referred to on more than one occasion as Universities (e.g. by Fortescue and Stow) and indeed the existing Inns present to-day some of the features of the old Universities.

Various projects for the creation of a University in London have been put forward from time to time. The only one of these which even partially materialised is the College associated with the name of Sir Thomas Gresham, who died in 1579. By his will the rents of the Royal Exchange were, with Gresham House (his town residence) vested in the hands of the Corporation of London and of the Mercers Company, who were to appoint lecturers in divinity, astronomy, geometry, music, law, medicine and rhetoric. The Professors were required to be unmarried men and each was to be provided with residential accommodation. The College was not very successful, although its early Professors included men such as Isaac Barrow, Hooke, Petty, Dr. John Ball, and Sir Christopher Wren. The great Fire of London destroyed the Royal Exchange, and deprived it of its chief source of revenue and in 1767 the building was sold to the Government. The interesting lectures which are still delivered at the present Gresham College in the City of London are the only surviving link with Sir Thomas Gresham's noble plan.

The movement which, after long delay and much opposition, was finally responsible for the foundation of a University in London was unrelated to any of its predecessors. It drew its inspiration from the same source as that which was responsible for the Reform Bill and for the other changes, political, legal, and social, which are associated with Bentham and the remarkable men whom he gathered around him. The first public pronouncement was contained in an open letter from the poet Thomas Campbell to Brougham in the Times of February 9th, 1825, in which the foundation of a great University in London was advocated, and in the same year Brougham introduced into the House of Commons a measure, which met with no success, for the purpose of providing university education at an incorporated College in London for those who could not proceed to the ancient universities.

The appeal initiated by Campbell and his associates was so successful that in 1827 a capital sum of £160,000 was raised by subscribers who made a Deed of Settlement and became "Proprietors of the University of London." Land had been acquired in Gower Street, and on April 30th, 1827, the foundation-stone of the new building, now known as University College, was laid by the Duke of Sussex. Efforts were made by the "Proprietors" to obtain from the Crown a Charter of Incorporation empowering them to grant degrees; and in anticipation of success the College bore, for several years, the name of "London University."

The same period saw the foundation of King's College, the establishment of which may in one sense be regarded as an answer to the challenge thrown out by the Whigs in establishing University College. Under the leadership of the Duke of Wellington a body of defenders of the established order secured funds for the establishment of "a College in which instruction in the doctrines and duties of Christianity as taught by the Church of England should be for ever combined with other branches of useful education," and a Royal Charter of Incorporation was granted to the College in August 1829. The College was opened on October 8th, 1831, on a site in the Strand presented by the Government, but it was somewhat crippled in resources by large withdrawals of support in resentment at the Duke's acceptance of the Catholic Relief Bill.

The application of "London University" for incorporation and degree-giving powers met with bitter opposition. It is not necessary here to dwell with any detail upon the various steps which were taken before a solution was arrived at. In July 1833 Mr. William Tooke and Mr. Romilly moved in the House of Commons "That an humble Address be presented to His Majesty, beseeching him to grant His Royal Charter of Incorporation to the University of London, with such powers and privileges as shall appear to His Majesty to be most effectual for the encouragement of education amongst all classes of His Majesty's subjects." This was withdrawn on the assurance of the Government that the matter was under consideration. On May 26th, 1835, the inaction of the Government and the defeat of a motion to admit Nonconformists to the old Universities caused a further move to be made. Mr. Tooke moved "An address to His Majesty, beseeching him to grant his Royal Charter of Incorporation to the University of London, as approved in the year 1831 by the then Law Officers of the Crown, and containing no other restriction than against conferring degrees in Divinity and Medicine." This was carried against the Government by a majority of 110. As a result the Privy Council were asked to report on the matter, and in August 1835 the Duke of Somerset, Chairman of the Council of "London University," received from the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Mr. Spring Rice, an outline of the Scheme proposed by Lord Melbourne's Government. The outline is as follows:

"It is intended by the Government to take the following steps with a view to provide a mode for granting Academical Degrees in London to persons of all religious persuasions, without distinction and without the imposition of any test or disqualification whatever.

"1. The Charter sought for by the Duke of Somerset and others will be granted, incorporating the parties by the title of 'London University College.'

"2. Similar Charters will be granted to any Institution of the same kind which may be hereafter established.

"3. Another Charter will be granted to persons eminent in literature and science, to act as a Board of Examiners, and to perform all the functions of the Examiners in the Senate House of Cambridge; this body to be termed the 'University of London.'

"4. Pupils from University and King's College to be admitted, on certificates of having gone through a course of study at those establishments, and having obtained a proficiency to pass for a Degree, and having conducted themselves to the satisfaction of the Governing Bodies of those Colleges, to be examined, and to be classed according to their relative merits.

"5. Any other Bodies for Education, whether corporated or uncorporated, may from time to time be named by the Crown, and their pupils may be admitted to examination for Degrees.

"The Degrees to be granted to be A.B., A.M., B.L., D.L., B.M. and D.M."

In an explanatory letter addressed to the Council in Nov. 1835 Mr. Spring Rice added that "It should always be kept in mind that what is sought on the present occasion is an equality in all respects with the ancient Universities, freed from those exclusions and religious distinctions which abridge the usefulness of Oxford and Cambridge."

The proposals of the Government were submitted to the consideration of the proprietary body and accepted. It was generally felt that these proposals furnished the best available solution of the problem, which had been so long a subject of anxious controversy. They amounted to a declaration that the business of teaching should be confided to the Colleges; but that the duty of examining, of awarding prizes, and of conferring degrees should be entrusted to an entirely separate and independent body, to be called the University of London. The friends and supporters of University College cordially welcomed the Government plan, although it gave them far less than they had at first demanded, and although the acceptance of it implied the renunciation of all claim to exercise the full functions of a University, and placed them on a footing of equality with some younger and less important institutions. In a published letter issued by the Duke of Somerset in the name of the Council, and endorsed by the unanimous recommendations of the Professors, the proprietors of the new institution were counselled to accept the proposed compromise.

On the same date as the Charter of Incorporation was granted by William IV to University College (Nov. 28th, 1836) the Charter of the new University was sealed. (The text of this and the other Charters is set out in the first edition of the Historical Record.) It contains a recital to the effect that "We have deemed it to be the duty of our Royal Office, for the advancement of Religion and Morality, and the promotion of useful knowledge, to hold forth to all classes and denominations of our faithful subjects, without any distinction whatsoever, an encouragement for pursuing a regular and liberal course of Education; and considering that many persons do prosecute or complete their studies both in the Metropolis and in other parts of our United Kingdom to whom it is expedient that there should be offered such facilities, and on whom it is just that there should be conferred such distinctions and rewards as may incline them to persevere in these their laudable pursuits." For the purpose of "ascertaining, by means of examinations, the persons who have acquired proficiency in Literature, Science, and Art, by the pursuit of such course of education, and of rewarding them by Academical Degrees, as evidence of their respective attainments, and marks of honour proportioned thereunto" a Chancellor and Vice-Chancellor and a number of eminent persons were appointed to be "Fellows and members of the Senate." The first Chancellor was the Earl of Burlington (afterwards Duke of Devonshire), the first ViceChancellor was Sir John Lubbock (father of the first Lord Avebury), and among the first Fellows were Henry Brougham, Sir George B. Airy (the Astronomer Royal), Thomas Arnold, John Austin, Neil Arnott, Francis Beaufort, John Dalton, Michael Faraday, Professor Hen slow, Peter Mark Roget, Nassau Senior, and Connop Thirlwall. The Senate were required to hold examinations "for degrees once at least in every year," and all persons were admissible as candidates for the examinations on presenting certificates to the effect that they had followed courses of instruction (approved by the University) at University College, King's College, "or from such other instruction corporate or incorporated as now is, or hereafter shall be established for the purpose of Education, whether in the Metropolis or elsewhere within our United Kingdom" as were authorised by the Crown. The Charter was formally renewed by Queen Victoria in 1837.

Not only was the approval of the Crown necessary for the admission of institutions: the Fellows were appointed by the Crown, the revenue from fees was under the control of the Treasury, and regulations regarding the examinations for degrees had to be submitted to the Secretary of State for his approval. Some of these conditions were subsequently removed, but until its reconstruction at the end of the nineteenth century the University had in many respects the status of a Government Department.

From the beginning the Government accepted the responsibility for housing the University, and at first apartments were provided in Somerset House, which was also occupied by various learned societies; but in 1835 the Senate were deprived of these and housed in what was described as a "miserable garret in Marlborough House." This accommodation was of a temporary nature only, and in the spring of 1855 the University again removed, this time to Burlington House. In 1870 a new building, which was erected for the University at Burlington Gardens (now occupied by the Civil Service Commission), was opened by Queen Victoria and this was used until 1900. In that year an arrangement was made with the Government by which these premises were vacated, and the University was given the use of those portions of the Imperial Institute at South Kensington which it now occupies.

The first meeting of the Senate of which there was any official record was held on March 4th, 1837. A Common Seal was approved in 1838 and, after some correspondence with the Government on the proposed salary, a Registrar was appointed in the same year.

The new Senate had some initial difficulties to overcome before proceeding with the novel task assigned to them, but they proceeded with great care and deliberation with the preliminary work of studying and preparing syllabuses for the examinations. They wisely took the view that, in pursuance of their functions as an examining body, it behoved them to set what was then considered a high standard of requirements. They were able to secure from among their own members men of the highest attainments to act as examiners, and to these others were added from outside, and in 1838 the work of the examining University began. In that year the first Matriculation examination was held, at which there were 23 candidates. In the following year there were 31 candidates for Matriculation, 17 for the B.A. Examination, 3 for the LL.B., 25 for the M.B. and 2 for the M.D. Examinations. (fn. 1)

As an examining body the University was generally admitted to have discharged its duties well, and within the relatively narrow limits of these university activities it acquired a great reputation and influenced in many ways the development of education, not only in the British Isles but in part of the Empire overseas.

One innovation in the traditional practice of Universities in awarding degrees in the Faculty of Arts was adopted from the first in the Matriculation Examination by the recognition of the English language as a necessary branch of study in addition to Latin and Greek. In 1859 special provision was made for including English Philology and Literature in the examinations for degrees and honours in Arts. The University also founded, for the first time in England, a Faculty of Science, and in the year 1860 began to hold examinations for the degrees of Bachelor and Doctor in that Faculty. An Intermediate examination in Arts was introduced in 1859. The candidate for the degree of B.A. was then required to pass two examinations and was no longer permitted to obtain a degree by a single examination two years after Matriculation. Similar arrangements were made on the institution of the Degrees of Bachelor of Science in 1860, and the Bachelor of Laws in 1867, when the University ceased to require that all candidates for this last degree should have previously graduated in Arts. The first Doctor of Science was admitted in 1862, and the first Doctor of Literature in 1868. Degrees in Surgery were instituted in 1863, and in Music in 1877. The University also instituted Special Examinations in the Hebrew Text of the Old Testament, the Greek Text of the New Testament, the Evidences of the Christian Religion and Scripture History (1839), and in subjects relating to Public Health (1876) for which a branch of the M.D. Examination was afterwards substituted.

Just twenty-two years after its foundation a very important change was made in the policy of the University. The University, which was intended "to perform all the functions of the Examiners in the Senate House of Cambridge" although limited to the duty of examination, admitted to its examinations only those students who had gone through a course of study at University or King's College or some other "approved institution." The list of these "approved institutions" rapidly expanded. In 1850 a supplemental Charter admitted the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge and their several Colleges, but a number of institutions of varying character and status had also been added by the Crown from time to time. It became apparent that many of the affiliated institutions, several of which were hardly colleges, but rather secondary schools of good repute, interpreted studentship in very different ways, and that some of them competed with each other in relaxing the conditions on which the needful certificate for the University was granted. The governing body of the University had no power to reject unsatisfactory certificates or to criticise the regulations under which the Colleges awarded them. It possessed no visitorial authority, and no right to inquire into the methods of teaching, or to effect improvements. The sole means possessed by the Senate whereby the efficiency of the Colleges could be tested was the examination of their students; and its sole means of influencing the course and character of the teaching was to be found in its scheme and regulations for examination. Affiliation had proved to be an illusory guarantee of the quality of the courses followed by the candidates; and the Charter of 1858, by providing that attendance at approved institutions should not be required for the Examinations (other than in Medicine) formally recognised what was already evident, that the University could not accept responsibility for anything beyond the examination of its candidates. Its degrees were from now onward thrown open to all who presented themselves for examination, not only from London and the British Isles, but from all parts of the Empire.

The Charter of 1858 is also of importance in another respect, since by it the right of the graduates to participate in the government of the University was recognised. This had been a matter of considerable debate for some years. In 1848 an influential committee of the graduates was formed with a view, in the first place, to the protection of their academical and general interests, and to the cultivation of more intimate relations with each other and with the Senate, and also with the ultimate object of securing the recognition of the graduates as members of the corporate body and their representation in Parliament. Before these objects were attained, the graduates' committee evinced an active interest in the affairs of the University, and in particular succeeded in procuring the enactment of an important Statute in 1854 "to extend the rights enjoyed by the Graduates of Oxford and Cambridge in respect to the practice of Physic to the Graduates of the University of London." By this Act the degree of M.B. in the University became recognised as a licence to practise. Four years later the new Charter admitted the graduates as part of the corporate body of the University, and gave to them the right to assemble in Convocation. Convocation has ever since been an integral part of the constitution of the University.

The Charter of 1863, under which the University was governed until its reconstruction, differs from that of 1858 only in one particular, viz. that it authorised the conferment of degrees in Surgery.

In 1867 a cautious experiment was made in the direction of conferring academic distinctions upon women. Some years previously the Senate had taken legal opinion on the question whether they could confer degrees upon women, and had been advised that they had no power to confer degrees on persons "other than persons…such as those on whom University and Academical degrees have been habitually conferred, i.e. persons of the male sex." The Law Officers were now approached with the question whether Certificates could be granted to women, but they advised that such power, like that of conferring degrees, was not within the scope of the University Charter. A Supplementary Charter was accordingly obtained (1867) empowering the Senate to hold a special Examination for and grant Certificates to "Female Candidates, no male person to be admitted to such examination." Very few candidates presented themselves for this examination, and after much discussion the Senate and Convocation agreed in 1878 to accept from the Crown a Supplemental Charter, making every degree, honour and prize awarded by the University accessible to students of both sexes on perfectly equal terms. The University was thus the first academic body in the United Kingdom to admit women as candidates for degrees.

By the Representation of the People Act, 1867, the University became entitled to representation in Parliament, and the first Member of Parliament to be elected was the Rt. Hon. Robert Lowe, elected in 1868. On his elevation to the peerage he was succeeded by Sir John Lubbock, who sat until 1900, when he became Lord Avebury. Subsequent members were Sir Michael Foster (1900–1906), Sir Philip Magnus (1906–1922), and Sir Sydney Russell-Wells (1922–1924).

During many years proposals were made and discussions took place in the Colleges and learned societies with a view to the establishment of a scheme for the more complete organisation of the academic resources of the Metropolis. It was urged that the compromise arrived at in 1837, whereby the examining authority was completely detached from the teaching bodies, had often the effect of imposing upon professors and others engaged in the instruction of candidates, uniform lines of study and the use of special books, thus interfering injuriously with the legitimate freedom of the teachers. The Senate and Convocation had become partly convinced of the need for a closer relation between it and its examiners on the one hand and the authorities of the great teaching institutions on the other; and resolutions having this object in view had been proposed for discussion on more than one occasion. Moreover, it was contended that the main business of a University was not only to examine and to confer degrees, but also by other means to promote the interests of learning. It was especially desired that the Colleges should once more become, but in a truer sense than at first, constituent parts of the academic body, and that London should possess a teaching University with power to regulate higher education and the means of becoming a great seat of learning corresponding in its size and resources to the wealth and imperial position of the largest city in the world. Some of those who advocated this view believed that the problem could best be solved by the establishment in London of a second University, composed of Colleges only and recognising none but bona fide students in those Colleges, the present University remaining an imperial institution granting degrees and honours to all comers on condition of examination only. Others urged that some confusion and overlapping would occur if there were two Universities in the Metropolis, and that the present University might be so modified and reconstructed as to take a substantial share in teaching, and yet continue the more general and cosmopolitan work in which it has been so long engaged.

University College and King's College joined in a petition for a Charter for a new "teaching University of London." The Royal Colleges of Physicians and Surgeons, who were dissatisfied with the conditions under which the medical degrees of the University were conferred, applied for powers to confer degrees in medicine and surgery. These proposals not unnaturally gave rise to counter-proposals, and the Government set up a Royal Commission, under the presidency of the Earl of Selbourne, "to inquire whether any and what kind of new University or power is or are required for the advancement of Higher Education in London."

The report of the Commissioners was issued in 1889. The Commissioners were of opinion that the general case for a teaching University in London had been proved. They did not approve of the proposal of the College of Physicians and Surgeons. They stated that it was no part of the original conception of the present University that it should be a mere examining body without direct connection with any teaching institution; but they did not consider the combination of the existing University with a new teaching University to be impossible. They recommended that a reasonable time should be allowed to the University (which had submitted proposals to the Commission) to consider whether it would apply for a Charter extending the functions of the University to teaching on general lines suggested by them. In the event of such a Charter being obtained the Commissioners were of opinion that no other University should be established in London. The University did not, however, apply for such a Charter, the scheme which the Senate had incorporated in a draft Charter having been rejected by Convocation. The Government thereupon set up a second Royal Commission in 1892, under the Chairmanship of Earl Cowper. To this Commission a draft of a proposed Charter for a "Gresham University" was referred (on which account the Commission is sometimes known as the "Gresham Commission") and they were instructed to submit a scheme for the establishment under Charter of an effective teaching University for London. The Commission reported in 1894. They put forward a number of recommendations, including the following:—

"(1) We are of opinion that there should be one University only in London, and not two; and that the establishment of an efficient teaching University for London will be best effected by the reconstruction of the existing University, on such a basis as will enable it, while retaining its existing powers and privileges, to carry out thoroughly and efficiently the work which may be properly required of a teaching University for London, without interfering with the discharge of those important duties which it has hitherto performed as an examining body for students presenting themselves from all parts of the British Empire.

"(2) In view of the failure of previous attempts to settle this question, and of the difficulty and delay which must inevitably attend an alteration of the constitution of the University through the action of the University itself, we are of opinion that, in accordance with the precedents followed in other cases of university reform, the changes which we recommend should be effected not by Charter, but by legislative authority, and by the appointment of a Commission with statutory powers to settle, in the first instance, arrangements and regulations in general conformity with the recommendations which we are about to submit to Your Majesty."

The Senate on more than one occasion urged the Government to set up a Statutory Commission for carrying into effect the recommendations of the Royal Commission, and Bills were introduced to this end in 1895 and 1896. It was not, however, until four years later that the first University of London Act was passed. The Act appointed a body of Commissioners, under the Chairmanship of Lord Davey, charged with the duty of making Statutes and Regulations for the University "in general accordance" with the report of the Gresham Commission, but subject to modifications specified in the Act, and to any other modifications which appeared to them expedient after considering changes which had taken place in the meantime and representations made to them. After the expiration of the powers of the Commissioners the Senate of the reconstituted University were given power to make statutes and regulations.

The new Statutes were sealed in February of 1900 (for text see first Issue of the Historical Record, ed. 1912). In the report which accompanied the Statutes the Commissioners stated that while they had endeavoured to follow as closely as possible the recommendations of the "Gresham" report, they had in two important instances departed from them. They had not included among the Schools of the University any of the four Schools of Music mentioned in their report, and they had not succeeded in forming any Faculty of Laws. The two principal Colleges of Music were not willing to become Schools of the University, except upon conditions which it was not in the power of the Commissioners to accept. The four Inns of Court declined to take any part in the University. The Commissioners, however, included among the recognised teachers some of the teachers in Music and Laws, and Faculties in both branches of study were created.

No attempt is made here to summarise the provisions of the Statutes or to indicate wherein they differed from the proposals of the two Royal Commissions, which after such long delay, led to the reconstitution of the University, so that it might be a teaching as well as an examining body. Such a task would go far beyond the scope of this Introduction.

The new Senate met for the first time on October 24th, 1900, and in July 1901 appointed the first Principal of the University, Sir Arthur Rücker, F.R.S. Steps were at once taken to set up the new machinery for carrying on the work of the reconstituted University. This falls into three main divisions, viz. (1) that connected with teaching and research, (2) the continuance of the examinations conducted by the old University (now limited to "External Students"), and (3) University Extension Work, and for each of these divisions Advisory Committees were set up under the Statutes: the Academic Council, the Council for External Students, and the University Extension Board.

It was provided that the teaching work of the reconstituted University should be carried on in Colleges which were designated as "Schools of the University," and a number of institutions were admitted under the Statutes for this purpose. These included University College and King's College, six Colleges in the Faculty of Theology, two women's Colleges (Holloway and Bedford) in the Faculties of Arts and Science, the Royal College of Science in the Faculty of Science, the South-Eastern Agricultural College (in Agriculture only), ten of the Medical Schools of the great London Hospitals, the Central Technical College in the Faculty of Engineering, and the London School of Economics in the Faculty of Economics. The original list of "Schools" has been added to from time to time by the Senate, in some cases for a term of years, in others without time limit. Westfield College (for Women) was admitted in the Faculty of Arts in 1902, the London School of Tropical Medicine (Faculty of Medicine— Tropical Medicine) in 1905, East London College (Faculties of Arts, Science, and Engineering) and University College Hospital Medical School (Faculty of Medicine) in 1907, King's College Hospital Medical School (Faculty of Medicine) in 1909, the London Day Training College (Faculty of Arts—Pedagogy) in 1910, the Royal Dental Hospital School (Faculty of Medicine—Dentistry) in 1911, Birkbeck College (Faculty of Arts and Science—evening and part time students) in 1920, the School of Pharmacy (Faculty of Medicine—Pharmacy) in 1925. The Royal Army Medical College (1908) and the Royal Naval Medical School (1913) were also admitted in the Faculty of Medicine for officers of the Royal Army and Royal Navy Medical Corps respectively.

The Statutes also provided for the admission of institutions for the purpose of research, and in this category the following have been admitted as Schools: the Lister Institute (Faculty of Medicine—Hygiene and Pathology) in 1905, the School of Oriental Studies (Faculty of Arts) in 1918, the Maudsley Hospital and Bethlem Royal Hospital (Faculty of Medicine—Psychological Medicine) in 1924, and the Cancer Hospital in 1927.

The oldest of the Research Institutions of the University has been continued. This, the Brown Animal Sanatory Institution, owes its origin to a bequest made in 1858 of a sum of over £22,000 under the will of Mr. Thomas Brown for founding an Institute for "investigating and endeavouring to cure diseases of animals," at which in 1871 Professor-Superintendent Dr. J. (afterwards Sir John) BurdonSanderson, F.R.S., was appointed. Much valuable research work has been carried out in this—one of the pioneer research institutes in England.

All the Schools of the University are open to visitation of the University, and the Senate are required to make arrangements for obtaining reports at prescribed intervals of time on their efficiency. In pursuance of this duty visitations have been carried out of all the Schools.

Shortly after the reconstitution of the University, University College expressed itself willing to be incorporated in the University by handing over the land, funds and buildings which belonged to it, and by placing itself under the complete control of the University. To facilitate this arrangement, the Worshipful Company of Drapers undertook the responsibility for the College debt of £30,000, and sums amounting in all to £200,000 were received from that Company, Sir Donald Currie, and other donors, of whom two of the most munificent were anonymous.

The Act, entitled University College London (Transfer) Act, 1905, empowering the transfer of University College, London, to the University, received the Royal Assent on July 11th, 1905. Under this Act the College and the property and trust funds of the College, except such as belonged to or were held in trust for University College Hospital and the Medical School attaching thereto and the boys' school carried on by the College on the appointed day (January 1st, 1907), were transferred to the University. The College is managed by a Committee appointed by the Senate.

A similar Act, entitled The King's College, London (Transfer) Act, providing for the incorporation of King's College in the University, received the Royal Assent in August 1908. In this case the transfer on the appointed day (January 1st, 1910) of power, duties, and property was confined to matters connected with Faculties of the University other than the Faculty of Theology. The College is also managed by a Committee (The Delegacy) appointed by the Senate, but the Council of King's College remains the Governing Body so far as the Department of Theology is concerned, which Department is by the same Act constituted a School of the University.

In 1905 the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths, who have been generous benefactors of the University, presented to the University their Institute at New Cross, together with 4½ acres of unoccupied land. The Institute, which, after its transfer to the University, was named Goldsmiths' College, is governed by a Delegacy appointed by the Senate, and is not only a large and successful training College for teachers, but has also a flourishing Art School, and provides evening instruction in various subjects.

In 1921 a sum of £24,000 (of which £20,000 was contributed by an anonymous donor) was raised for the establishment of an Institute of Historical Research, and in July of that year the present (temporary) building was opened. The Institute is a centre for specialisation in the various branches of history and is intended for post-graduate and advanced students of history. It is managed by a Committee appointed by the Senate.

The Teachers of the University are: (1) Teachers appointed as Officers of the University ("Appointed Teachers"), and (2) Teachers appointed by the authorities of the various institutions and recognised by the Senate ("Recognised Teachers"); the first consisting of the "Professors" and "Readers," and the second, for the most part, of junior teachers. University Chairs and Readerships in a great number of subjects have been established in almost all the Schools of the University, either from general university funds, or from gifts and benefactions to the University for the purpose, or from funds provided by the authorities of the Schools. The building up since 1900 of a University Professoriate has made very great progress, and has been rendered possible by the co-operation of the Schools who have, in most cases, voluntarily given up the right of conferring the titles of Professor and Reader. There are now (1927) over 170 Professors and 80 Readers of the University and about 830 Recognised Teachers.

The Senate were also charged with the duty of prescribing courses of study, after consultation with the Board of Studies, for the guidance of Internal Students, i.e. Matriculated students following courses under Teachers of the University. The number of such students, which was about 2,000 in 1902, had in 1926 risen to over 9,000, and continues to increase. The greater part of these are students who have in view a first degree of the University; but in recent years, owing to a growing recognition of the unique advantages of London for postgraduate study and research work, there has been a very large accession of postgraduate students, drawn not only from various parts of this country, but from all countries in the world.

Inter-Collegiate Courses of Lectures have also been arranged, and Special Courses of Advanced Lectures on various subjects delivered by visiting Professors from foreign and other Universities and by other persons not Teachers of the University.

The number of External Students—i.e. Matriculated students other than Internal Students—who present themselves for examination has not, however, diminished; on the contrary, the number for first degree examinations, which in 1900 was 890, had risen in 1926 to 1,742, and the University thus continues, in the words of its first Charter, to reward "by academical degrees, as evidence of their respective attain ments and works of honour proportioned thereunto," students who satisfy the test of its examinations, but who are not Internal Students of the University.

In addition to the degrees conferred before the reconstitution a number of new degrees have been established. Degrees in Engineering and Economics were added in 1903, Agriculture in 1905, Commerce in 1919, Horticulture in 1918, Household and Social Science (Internal Students only) in 1920, Estate Management (External Students only) in 1921. Various new branches of the B.A. and B.Sc. degree have also been established. The new Statutes also allowed degrees to be awarded on the results of research and most of the doctorate degrees, including the Ph.D. Degree (first established in 1920), are Research Degrees. Diplomas have also been instituted in a number of subjects. Prior to the reconstitution there had been a Special Examination in the Art, Theory, and History of Teaching, with a view to encouraging persons who intend to adopt the teacher's profession to acquire special training for their work. No candidate was eligible for the diploma who was not already a graduate. To the theoretical part of the Examination a practical exercise in teaching a class in the presence of the Examiner was always added. This Examination was held for the last time in 1903, and was superseded by the Examination in Pedagogy. In 1910 the title of this Examination was changed to the "Examination for the Teacher's Diploma," and is awarded to Internal and External Students. Diplomas in Geography and Theology for Internal and External Students have also been instituted, and Diplomas in Anthropology, Archæology, Bacteriology, Biology, Fine Art, Journalism, Librarianship, Psychology, Public Administration, Slavonic Studies, Sociology, Town Planning and Civic Architecture, Town Planning and Civic Engineering for Internal Students.

On October 1st, 1902, the University Extension work, which had been carried on for over twenty-five years by the London Society for the Extension of University Teaching, was handed over by the Society to the University, and is now under the direction of the University Extension Board. The vigour and success of the work has been fully maintained since its transfer to the University, and the scheme has undergone important developments.

The University Extension Board also conducts the inspection and examination of schools, and awards school and other certificates and diplomas in various subjects. It is also responsible for organising Courses of Study for Foreign Students in the Long Vacation.

In July 1909 the Senate constituted the Joint Committee for the Promotion of the Higher Education of Working People (consisting of an equal number of members nominated by the University Extension Board and the Workers' Educational Association respectively), under whose direction the scheme of University Tutorial Classes for Working People has been developed.

The following Diplomas are also awarded on the recommendation of the University Extension Board :—Humanities (History, Literature, Economics and Social Science, History of Art), Dramatic Art, Nursing, Psychological Medicine.

Even before the reconstitution the University had received endowments for various Scholarships and prizes. Since 1900 a number of valuable gifts and benefactions have been received for these purposes and the establishment of Chairs, Readerships, and Lectureships. Particulars of those given to the University in respect of its incorporated Colleges will be found in the Calendars of these Colleges (University College and King's College) and others are referred to at length in the following pages (under the heading of "Trusts and Benefactions"). Mention may be made here of the King Edward Chair of Music, established in 1902 from funds given by Trinity College of Music, the Galton Chair of Eugenics established in 1911, the Creighton Lectureship (1907), the Graham Medical Research Fund (1909), the Dixon Fund (1909), the Semon Lectureship (1911), the Fletcher-Warr Studentship (1914), the Zaharoff Chair of Aviation (1917), and the Koraes Chair of Modern Greek (1918). In 1918 the munificent gift by Sir Ernest Cassel made possible the establishment of Chairs in Accountancy, Banking, and Commercial and Industrial Law, Readerships in Foreign Trade, Economic Geography and Commerce (with special reference to Transport), and three Lectureships in Commerce, all of which bear his name. From the same bequest were also established four Scholarships—the Sir Ernest Cassel Travelling Scholarships.

In 1919 the Mickle Fellowship was established, in 1923 the Cassel Chair of International Relations, in 1924 the Duveen Lectureship in Otology, and in 1925 the Davidson Chair of Theology, and the Stevenson Chair of International History.

In 1909 the establishment of the University of London Contingent of the Officers' Training Corps was authorised by the Army Council, and augmentations of this establishment were authorised from time to time. The Contingent at present consists of one Field Artillery Section, and Engineer Unit of three Sections of a Field Company, and Infantry Unit of one Battalion of six Companies. A SoundRanging Unit of one Section, and a Medical Unit of four Companies of a Field Ambulance. During the Great War no less than 4,000 Commissions were granted.

In 1911 the Senate constituted a University Appointments Board to assist Graduates and Students of the University in obtaining appointments, in co-operation with the various Appointment Boards of the Colleges. This was subsequently associated with the Commerce Degree Bureau, which was endowed from funds raised by the Commerce Degrees Committee, and whose purpose is to afford guidance to students who are unable to attend regular courses of instruction in the University.

In the same year the Senate established a Publication Fund for the purpose of facilitating the publication of learned works, and grants are made twice a year from the Fund.

In 1909 another Royal Commission on the University was appointed. Although the immediate cause of its appointment was the question of the relationship which should exist between the University and the Imperial College of Science and Technology, the terms of reference were very wide. They were "to inquire into the working of the present organisation of the University of London, and into other facilities for advanced education (general, professional, and technical) existing in London for persons of either sex above secondary school age; to consider what provision should exist in the Metropolis for University teaching and research; to make recommendations as to the relations which should in consequence subsist between the University of London, its incorporated Colleges, the Imperial College of Science and Technology, the other Schools of the University, and the various public institutions and bodies concerned; and further to recommend as to any changes of constitution and organisation which appear desirable; regard being had to the facilities for education and research which the Metropolis should afford for specialist and advanced students in connection with the provision existing in other parts of the United Kingdom and of our Dominions beyond the Seas." The Rt. Hon. R. B. Haldane (afterwards Viscount Haldane) was appointed Chairman.

The Final Report of the Commissioners was published in 1913, and in the same year a Departmental Committee was set up "to inquire and report after consultation with the bodies and persons concerned as to the steps by which effect shall be given to the Scheme of the Report of the Royal Commission. …" Soon after the outbreak of the War the Committee was, however, obliged to abandon its labours. In October 1924 another Departmental Committee was appointed "to consider the Final Report of the Royal Commission on University Education in London dated March 27th, 1913, and having regard to present circumstances and after consultation with the persons and bodies concerned, to indicate what are the principal changes now most needed in the existing constitution of the University of London, and on what basis a Statutory Commission should be set up to frame new Statutes for the University." The Chairman of the Committee was Lord Ernle, who was afterwards succeeded by Mr. Hilton Young.

The Report of the Committee was published in March 1926. They put forward a number of recommendations and concluded by recommending that Statutory Commissioners should be appointed by Parliament to make new Statutes for the University in accordance with their recommendations. Parliament accordingly passed the University of London Act of 1926. This Act appointed a body of Commissioners, under the Chairmanship of Mr. Justice Tomlin, to make Statutes for the University "in general accordance with the recommendations in the Report of the Committee, subject to any modifications which may appear to them to be expedient" and subject to certain reservations. The Commissioners are at the present time (1927) engaged in their deliberations.

Among the questions dealt with in the report of the "Haldane" Commission was that of suitable quarters for the Senate-house and the administrative staff and in 1912 efforts were made to acquire for the use of the University a site north of the British Museum, a considerable sum of money being raised for the purpose. For various reasons, however, the scheme fell through, and no further action was taken until 1920, when the Government offered the Senate for the use of the University and of King's College a site of about 11½ acres in Bloomsbury, and on its acceptance purchased the site. The offer was subject to a condition that King's College should vacate its present buildings in the Strand, the greater part of which is held on a Crown lease at a nominal rent. The authorities of King's College were unable to agree to this proposal, and as the condition could not be fulfilled the offer lapsed, and the site was re-sold to the vendor by the Government.

The Senate were in a position of some difficulty as in the expectation that the site would eventually be the property of the University, some University institutions, including the Institute of Historical Research, had been erected on it. Vigorous efforts were accordingly made to safeguard the position of these institutions, and if possible to acquire the site for the University, and this year (1927) the Senate, with the assistance of a splendid gift from the Rockefeller Foundation, were enabled to repurchase the site free of any such conditions as accompanied the earlier offer of the Government. The question of the best use to which the site shall be put is now under consideration.


  • 1. In 1899, the last year under the old constitution, the number of candidates for Matriculation was 3,938, and for all other examinations 2,740.