§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ MR. EWART
, in moving that the Bill be now read a second time, said, the object of the measure was to open the 1614 Universities to students without obliging them to be members of any College in those Universities—in fact, to restore the ancient University system, as now practised in Germany and in Scotland, and which was also the ancient system at the Universities of Paris, of Bologua, and even in England. He was himself an unworthy member of one of those Universities, and he yielded to no one in veneration for those ancient institutions or in respect for the members who adorned them. If the Universities could and would make this reform themselves he would willingly give way; but it had been declared by that House that the Universities were national institutions and lay incorporations, and therefore amenable to Parliament. If we looked to the history of these Universities we should find that at first the Universities were everything and the Colleges nothing. The College system had originated in the hospitia or convictoria, or lodging-houses, like the Inns of Court. These hospitia, said Huber, in his work on the English Universities, existed before the Conquest, and gradually overshadowed the University, or, like parasitical plants, undermined the walls they appeared to support. The students were not very civilized—their favourite pursuit appeared to have been poaching. We were told that the number of students at Bologna in Friar Bacon's time (1262), was 20,000; at the Paris University, at the end of the 16th century, the number was 25,000. Oxford was rated at 30,000, with 300 Colleges and Halls. Huber said the number was 25,000. Many of these hospitia were founded in the reign of Henry III., and were intended to cheapen education; but, like the messes of our regiments, they eventually made it dearer. In the 15th century attachment to Colleges began in England, and became more and more predominant; but still ex-college students remained, and were called by the name of "chamber dekyns." Archbishop Laud was the chief promoter of the tutorial, or College system, by which the tutor and the student must be members of the same College. This was a change worthy of the narrow mind of Laud, who was, however, useful as a Reformer at Dublin. But while in England the professorial system declined, it continued to prevail in other countries, especially in Italy. There were female as well as male professors at Bologna, where Novella d'Andria taught the canon law; Laura Bassi, physics; and Clotilda 1615 Tambroni, Greek, in 1817. But professorial chairs at our Universities became, many of them, sinecures. Gray, the poet, filled the Professor's chair of history at Cambridge, though it was doubtful whether he ever delivered a lecture. The same might be said of the Vinerian Professorship of Law at Oxford, immortalized by the "Commentaries" of Blackstone. Conyers Middleton, an archæologist, was Professor of Geometry. Meantime, what strides had been made under the professorial system, by the great intellect of Germany! All our deeper books in grammar, history, science, and theology came from thence. It was the great officina literarum.As to the Professorships," said a German writer, Huber, "Oxford, still more Cambridge, is become more scientific. But it is certain that in its professorial character the smallest University with us outstrips them both together.To restore and give greater dignity to the position of Professors was the object of this Bill; and the mode in which he proposed to accomplish it was by inducing ex-college students to frequent the Universities. It might be asked, what would be the benefits of the proposed change? In the first place, the spirit of free competition, or free trade, in education would be let in. This, it might be hoped, would stimulate and invigorate the college system. In the next place it would be a boon to poor scholars, whose position must always be regarded with deep interest. At present the poorer scholars chiefly passed through the Universities as servitors. In Scotland they were openly admitted; and the sons of mechanics lived at the University on oatmeal and the scantiest fare; they might be miserably poor, but they were nobly independent; they came for work, not for pleasure, and might well be described in the words in which Chaucer depicts his Oxford scholar—A clerk there was of Oxenford also,That unto logike hatte long ygo,As lene was his horse as is a rake,And he was not right fat, I undertake;For him was liever have at his bed's headTwenty bookis, clothed in black or red,Of Aristotle and his philosophie,Than robes riche, or fidel, or sauterie.Such was a scholar in the time of Chaucer, and such were scholars in Scotland now. A great many Scotch University men were obliged to work on the farm in vacation time. One student who held the plough and cut the harvest was one of the 1616 best scholars within the walls of a University. Professor Wall, according to the Oxford Report, p. 49, 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 also said that "such a change would be opportune as well as beneficial." Free admission to the Universities would call out native genius. Newton, Milton, and others existed under the old system, when cramming was unknown. The change proposed would call out new subjects of study. It was an old saying of Gibbon that—Of the two kinds of education, that which was given us and that which we gave ourselves, the one we gave ourselves was incomparably the best.Under the old system men formed themselves; under the new, their knowledge was too much filtered through the minds of others, called, in University phraseology, "cramming," which might not inappropriately be called a system of intellectual indigestion. Another benefit of the change proposed was that it would introduce new subjects into the educational system of the University—such practical sciences, for instance, as engineering, agricultural chemistry, practical geology. A great portion of the youth of this country were destined to find their fortunes in emigration; yet it was doubtful whether the Universities taught much that would be useful to an emigrant. Instruction in agricultural chemistry, practical geology, and other similar subjects would be highly useful to an emigrant. Within our own times engineering had become a profession as well as a science. Surely, instruction in that and other similar subjects would be practically useful to the general students of an University? At the same time, under the professorial system we should have lofty and comprehensive views of general subjects. How could we hope to hear in the narrow lecture-room of a College such an essay as Schiller's noble one on Universal History? He thought, also, that education would be cheaper under the system proposed. At first sight we might think that Colleges would be cheaper than Universities; they had all the advantages of association; but a certain rivalry among young men at college led to expense. A solitary student was beyond the reach of ridicule and fashion. It was truly observed in the 1617 Oxford Report that "no skill or vigilance by Colleges can reduce the cost of living so much as the ingenuity and interest of a student." But there was also the evidence of a sub-committee appointed specially to inquire into this subject, that not only would free admission at Universities be cheaper than the present system, but it would tend, both by competition and example, to reduce the cost in Colleges. Perhaps in time, in accordance with good taste, simplicity and frugality might become fashionable even in Colleges and public schools. That sub-committee, consisting of the Dean of Christchurch, Professor Price, Professor Goldwin Smith, Professor Sir B. C. Brodie, Professor Bernard, Mr. Griffiths, Mr. Wayte, Mr. Edwin Palmer, and Mr. J. J. Hornby, reported the general result in this way—The fixed charges incidental to College life amount to £60 per annum more or less; the cost of living on a low average is £40; and the annual subscriptions £5. A sum of about £60 has to be deposited at entrance, of which, indeed, the greater part will be subsequently returned, but which a student has, nevertheless, to provide; and fees exceeding £10 are paid to the College on taking the two common degrees. The consequence necessarily is that College education is not extended generally to young men who cannot afford to pay these sums. Consequently Oxford is closed to all but members of Colleges and Halls—its education, its institutions, its libraries, its museums, are practically closed against all but those who can afford to pay these sums.In other words, the student had to pay £100 a year to a College. Well, what was the cost of living in lodgings? The sub-committee said a little less than one-half. In the College about £100 a year; out of the College £49 4s. But the average cost in Scotland was from £20 to £25 a year. But not only would free admission be cheaper, it would tend, both by competition and example, to reduce the cost in Colleges. Another advantage would be that the respectable tradesmen of Oxford and Cambridge would be able to send their children to the Universities to be educated. Why should they exclude respectable tradespeople from giving their sons all the advantages of the University—its libraries, lectures, and museums, and all its intellectual apparatus? Why might not families settle at Oxford or Cambridge with the same object? It would be greatly to the benefit both of the University and the town, and he believed that the necessities of the age were outgrowing our too limited institutions, and that this was beginning to be done already. 1618 He knew that objections would be raised to the scheme on the ground that it would; induce immorality; but no such complaint came from either Germany or Scotland, where the scheme was in operation. The Oxford Report said—This plan has been tried in Edinburgh, Dublin, and Glasgow without securities, and succeeded. We might safely appeal to the lives of the clergy educated there.In Cambridge, too, 700 undergraduates lodged in the town, and he had heard the senior tutor of Trinity say that they were better conducted than the men who lodged in College. The ex-college students will probably be too poor to be tempted. Besides, we might take securities — there might be licensed lodging-houses, subject to withdrawal in case of infraction of the rules—adopting, but with more stringency, the plan pursued at Cambridge. Another objection to the change was the want of society for the ex-college students. But Gibbon consoles us for this, for he says that "society stimulates the intellect, but that solitude is the nurse of genius." But the ex-college students would probably form societies among themselves more free than in the Colleges, where a narrow system of ex-clusiveness and caste sometimes prevailed, which would be freshened and invigorated by a more open system. A third objection was that under the proposed scheme there would be no security for religious training; but this objection was not felt in Scotland or Germany. Still, if it were thought desirable in England, means might be adopted for ensuring the attendance of students at some place of worship. Richer young men might live in Professors' houses; as the late Lord Lansdowne and Lord Russell did at Edinburgh. Such were the many reasons which had induced him to support the opening of the Universities at Edinburgh. In the words of a writer on this subject—The Universities existed before a single College was endowed; and they would continue to exist, with all their rights and privileges unimpaired, even if the property of all the Colleges were confiscated and their buildings levelled with the ground.At the same time, it was impossible not to honour the esprit de corps and local ambition which animated our Colleges. He only wished the two great luminaries not to be obscured by their own satellites; so that both systems, the professorial and tutorial, might shine with mutually reflected 1619 light. There was one word which he would pronounce before he closed, and which actuated him in this matter, equally applicable to literature and to commerce, to the poorer and the richer scholar—that word was "Freedom."
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."—(Mr. W. Ewart.)
§ MR. BERESFORD HOPE
remarked that no one who had studied the early history of our Universities could for one moment suppose that the University was not more ancient than, and in its origin quite independent of, the Colleges. On that very circumstance, however, he based his opposition to the present measure—as being open to the imputation which was generally most damnatory in the eyes of the Liberal party, that of its being strictly and absolutely reactionary. It proposed to renew a system which the experience of ages and the growth of civilization had put on one side. It was, indeed, one of those bewildering and mischievous pieces of legislation which had regard to only one side of the case, and so looking at it dealt with a many-sided question, arbitrarily, rapidly, and incompletely, and in a manner more theoretical than practical tried to solve the difficulty, and thereby estopped the action of those who were quietly, steadily, and with a full knowledge of the matter in all its bearings working for its solution. The whole gist of the Bill lay in the following words:—Notwithstanding anything contained in any Act of Parliament now in force relating to either of the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, or in the statutes, charters, deeds of composition, or other instruments of foundation of either of the said Universities, or of any College or Hall within the same, any person may be matriculated without being entered as a member of any College or Hall, and may if he shall think fit join himself to any College or Hall with the consent of the head thereof, but without being obliged to reside within the same; and every person so matriculated shall in all respects and for all intents and purposes be and be considered as a member of the University, and upon joining any College or Hall shall in all respects and for all intents and purposes be and be considered as a member thereof.The object of the first provision was clear enough, but he confessed that the exact purport of the second passed his comprehension; it seemed to amount to no more than a solemn declaration that the existing state of things in both the Universities 1620 was a state of things that existed, while it did not lay down or enunciate anything which might not be done under the actual system. But what was the grievance which the Bill was brought in to remedy? Was it a poor man's or a rich man's grievance? Was it that such men as Earl Russell, for example, or Lord Lansdowne—he mentioned them without any personal reference, merely as the members of their class who had been named by the hon. Member—might be gratified. Was it because without conforming to University discipline, University dress, and University rule, they might like to pass a dilettante year or two in picking up stray crumbs of knowledge in the University? If so, that was a case which did not call for the intervention of that House. If, however, the Bill was introduced for the sake of the poor man, it deserved respectful consideration. But in what respect was it for the benefit of the poor man? How could a poor man more cheaply, more rapidly, and more effectively pick up the knowledge necessary for obtaining a University degree by not belonging to any College? It was nothing to the point to quote the system pursued in Scotland and Germany. Our Universities might be better or worse than those of Germany or Scotland, but, at all events, they were modelled on one system and those upon another. A young man who went to Aberdeen, or Jena, or Gottingen and lodged in the town, was placed upon a level with all the other young men there. He took his degrees like the others, and therefore he was in no way injured nor pointed at as a marked man on account of his non-aggregation to a College. Besides, it must not be forgotten that the Universities of Scotland, to a great extent, acted also as the public schools of that country, and could not be accurately compared with those of England where the public school system had acquired an independent existence. Now, if a man went to Oxford or Cambridge, and did not belong to a college, he would, no doubt, pro tanto, gain the benefit of such studies as the University itself provided. He would be able to attend the professorial lectures, and, if his purse would admit of it, might also put himself under the tuition of any private tutor; but he would not gain the financial and housekeeping advantages which a common table, if judiciously managed, college rooms, and the joint-stock system of College tuition combined to confer on the undergraduate 1621 members of Colleges. Above all, he would not have the advantage of the tuition provided by the Colleges. It was idle, for the purpose of the present Bill, to raise again the old question between the tutorial and the professorial systems; they must respectively be taken as they at present existed. Each University had organized a system in its colleges under which a course of regular instruction was given to the young men during their undergraduate course by certain officers of the College called tutors, who were responsible for the instruction they gave, and who were liable to removal if they were guilty of neglect. Besides that, there had grown up almost during the present generation an external system of private tutors, that is, of tutors with whom the undergraduate made a private bargain; and those undergraduates who went in for high honours must put themselves under the guidance of a private tutor. Indeed, almost every undergraduate was under the necessity of seeking the aid of a private tutor at some period of his University career. As for a man being able to read for himself without any tutorial instruction, it was true that a Newton or a Milton, who had been cited, might do so, but for young men of the ordinary kind it would be as impracticable as attempting to learn a mechanical trade by standing in a workshop and watching the workmen. In fact, the private tutor of the 19th century was correlative to the "professor" of the Middle Ages. He was the instructor whose personal reputation attracted the voluntary pupil in his pursuit of the ordinary studies of the University. What were now the duties of the professors? Take the Greek professor at Cambridge for example. He would ordinarily choose some Greek book of moderate compass, a Greek play or a dialogue of Plato for instance, which he explained to a select and voluntary class, going into the higher details of scholarship; but it would be utterly useless for the rank and file of the University to attend such lectures, because all they wanted was to pick up just as much knowledge of the classics as would enable them to take an ordinary degree. It was the same with the other professorial chairs, whose chief utility was the exceptional instruction of select classes. So the external student not having any College tutor under whom he could study must, if he meant to take advantage of his position, avail himself at the cost of his own pocket of the personally 1622 bought assistance of a private tutor. To pass on, however, to matters of discipline—how did the hon. Member propose to provide for the discipline of these external students? There existed in the Universities a complex system of discipline, administered partly by the University and partly by the College officers—the proctors and the deans. The proctors walked like policemen on their beats through the towns. If a proctor discovered that a young man had committed some trivial offence, he would reprimand him, and probably let him off; but if the case were of a grave character, it would be brought under the notice of the College authorities, and some punishment would be inflicted on the offender, which would not stand in the way of his academical success. Perhaps, for instance, he might be "gated"—that is, ordered for a period not to go beyond the College gates after a certain hour—a punishment which gave him more time to study. But suppose the case of an external student, who did not belong to any College, being caught by the proctor committing an offence which could not be passed over with a mere reprimand, what punishment, consistent with the maintenance of University discipline, could be inflicted on that man, which would not endanger his academical success? He could only imagine two punishments which would be applicable in such a case—namely, total expulsion, permanent or temporary, from the University, or suspension from University privileges for a month or a whole term—involving, of course, the right to attend lectures and examinations. Looking, however, to the competition that was going on, the temporary suspension of an external student would be tantamount to his total expulsion from the University, for he never could catch up the lost time, so that in reality he would be placed under a harder and more stringent system than a man who belonged to a college, for either of these punishments would be enough to ruin a poor man. The hon. Member had asserted that the moral condition of the German Universities were not inferior to that of our own. He would not now discuss that question; but he thought that everyone who had read Russell's Modern Germany, Mayhew's Life in Saxony, and other works of that kind must be of opinion that the social system of the German students, with their boisterous revelry, their inordinate consumption of beer, and their frequent duels, 1623 was not a system which it was desirable to introduce into the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge. The hon. Member had, it was true, one precedent for his measure to which he forgot to refer in the existence of a system of external students attached to the University of Dublin, but he must confess he never heard any one say that that was an advantage to Trinity College. It must be remembered that thirteen years ago the Legislature had enfranchised the Universities in the way of permitting the opening of private hostels; but little disposition had been shown to accept the boon on the part of the students. [Mr. GLADSTONE: Hear, hear!] Was not this a proof that the advantages of the system might not be so clear as its promoters imagined? Both at Oxford and at Cambridge attempts had been made, but yet no hostel was at this moment in existence. This was an Oxford Bill, and on this, as on other similar occasions, the House felt the inconvenience of efforts at legislation for both Universities being undertaken by hon. Members who brought to the task a necessarily imperfect acquaintance with the system prevailing at the particular University of which they were not members. Thus this was an Oxford Bill, and he believed that there was not at Oxford the same liberty of action as prevailed at Cambridge. He believed that at Oxford every undergraduate was obliged to reside within the walls of the College at any rate for the two first years; but at Cambridge as many undergraduates were received as there was room for in the chapel and hall, and a certain number were allowed, under certain restrictions, to reside in the town. This was, in his judgment, an admirable system; it extended the benefits of the University without weakening collegiate influence over the students, and something of the same sort might be done at Oxford without the necessity of the present Bill. The sumptuary advantage of dining in hall was of itself very great, and he might mention, in illustration of this, that at the Missionary College at Canterbury, in the foundation of which he was personally much interested, arrangements were made that the students might be boarded, lodged in very comfortable rooms, and have their breakfast, dinner, and supper in the hall, and be under the tutorial instruction of the Warden and Fellows. They had three months vacation in the year, and the whole expense of lodging, instruction and board for the nine 1624 months was only £35 for each student; the students being young men of the age of the ordinary undergraduate. He would advise Oxford to follow the example of Cambridge and to improve upon it by allowing the College students to lodge in the town, by making more vigorous attempts to found hostels in connection with the Colleges, by reducing the luxury of the meals in hall, and by giving breakfast and supper as well as dinner publicly in the halls. He was not in favour of the establishment of distinctive cheap Colleges, because they would give rise to invidious distinctions between one house and another; but he thought there would be nothing invidious in the revival of something analogous to the old system of "sizars" at Cambridge and "servitors" at Oxford, keeping, of course, perfectly clear of everything that might be regarded as humiliating. If these things were done, all that this Bill aimed at would be accomplished, without any risk of the ill consequences which he apprehended from the present measure. For it must be borne in mind that though this Bill was intended for the benefit of the poor student, it would be taken advantage of by the rich one. The fast man with his riding horse or two, or perhaps his horse in training for the Derby or for Ascot, the young man of expensive tastes and luxurious habits, who liked the society of the Uuiversity, and, perhaps, desired to acquire a superficial dash of learning—this would be the sort of person to reap the benefit of the present Bill. He would come up to Oxford or Cambridge, not to strengthen his intellect or increase his knowledge, but principally to enjoy himself; and he would practically be able to set the proctors at defiance, if he were allowed to reside in the town and to enter himself as a student without belonging to any College; for on the first scrape he got into he would go to the Vice Chancellor, take his name off the books, and yet, if he chose, he might continue living with and enjoying University society. Therefore he objected to the Bill that it would do no good, but carried with it the possibility of considerable harm. Let them leave the Universities to act for themselves. [Mr. LOWE They will not.] Were they not at work already? Were not syndicates and delegacies sitting for the purpose? If there was one thing that Englishmen held in special abhorrence it was meddling and teasing legislation. Every shopkeeper, on his return from a 1625 trip on the Continent, was full of the petty restrictions that paternal governments abroad imposed upon their subjects. In England we were tolerably free from this tendency, and he asked why the only exception should be in the case of the Universities? Why should the House be perpetually engaged in worrying, teasing, and regulating bodies which, if they were anything in the world, were bodies of men of great experience, profound learning, and considerable administrative power—who had shown during the last thirty years that they were alive to the spirit of the age, by developing their professorial system—which was a caput mortuum at the commencement of the present century—by improving their Colleges, and by altering their examinations in order to promote the studies which were pursued in them. They might fairly be left to act for themselves, and he therefore moved that the Bill be read a second time this day six months.
§ Amendment proposed, to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day six months."—(Mr. Beresford Hope.)
§ MR. POWELL
said, he congratulated the House on the advent of a period when questions respecting the regulation of the Universities could be introduced without embittering the discussion by polemical differences. He regretted that the system adopted at Cambridge, which provided for the extension of the "hostel" system, had not been more fully developed. He did not feel any jealousy of a considerable expansion of the numbers of the members of the Universities, but those who had received their instruction there must be anxious that the highest system of education should be maintained at the Universities. If the Universities once became the vehicles for conveying inferior education they would decline in public opinion, and eventually lose their influence. An apprehension was felt at Cambridge that the adoption of this Bill would lead to a lax discipline by facilitating the removal from one College to another at the mere will of the student. There was no security on the face of the Bill for the good conduct of the students who might take advantage of it, nor was there any security for age. Boys at the earliest period of their education might join, and he noticed too that the word "person" was used—so that even women might be admitted undergraduates. So carelessly had 1626 the Bill been drawn that there was no provision for keeping any term, and those who took advantage of it could not proceed to any of the degrees conferred by the Universities. If it were an historical fact that in the Middle Ages 20,000 or 30,000 persons belonged to the Universities, it was rather an argument against the Bill than for it, because if the advantage of that system had been found to be as great as was alleged, it would not have been superseded by the College system. The House ought to forbear—at least, for the present — from unnecessarily interfering with the Universities, and if they found that they made no attempt to expand themselves, and that no new system was adopted or proposed for adoption, there would be a strong presumption that they found such difficulties in the way that the assistance of Parliament was required.
§ MR. NEATE
said, that the necessity and importance of the measure were enhanced by the extension of the franchise. The object of the Bill was to induce the Universities to recur to their ancient system. Then the Universities, as originally established, were far more expansive than they were now, and opened a much wider door to the middle and lower classes, and our recent legislative changes, notwithstanding their beneficial character, had had the effect of still further confining the benefits of the foundations to the class for whom they were not originally intended. The best way to balance the increased political power of the working classes was to augment the intellectual vigour of the upper and middle classes. Although no large proportion of the numerous middle class could participate in the benefits of the Universities, yet, by affording encouragement, a stimulus might be given to middle-class education throughout the country. It was not from any unwillingness to acquiesce in desirable changes that the Universities failed to effect them; but accuracy of knowledge enabled members of Universities to detect the errors of proposed schemes, and the result was that more active members of the University had been restrained during the last year from doing anything by the residuum of the old Conservative party, who opposed change, and had their own way because clever and conscientious men could not agree upon any one scheme. Consequently, nothing would be done without a little pressure from without. Good 1627 would be done if the Bill went no further than a second reading, and an inquiry by a Select Committee would tend to promote a better understanding among all concerned. There was nothing of a sectarian character about the Bill, and its supporters simply desired to extend the utility of the Universities. He should therefore support the second reading.
§ SIR WILLIAM HEATHCOTE
, concurring in much that had been said by the last speaker, said, that the consideration of the present Bill divided itself into two distinct parts—they had to consider first the merit of the proposed change, and secondly the propriety of forcing it upon the Universities under existing circumstances. The Bill proposed to compel the Universities to receive undergraduate students who had no connection with any College. He (Sir William Heathcote) doubted the propriety of proceeding to that length—it would, he thought, be rash, without experiment, to extend the benefits of the Universities to persons who were not subject to their discipline. Although some of the Commissioners were in favour of the Bill there was a strong concurrence of opinion in the opposite direction amongst men who were very desirous of extending and liberalizing the Universities, he went a great way with the hon. Member for the city of Oxford (Mr. Neate); he was strongly of opinion that the increase of wealth and the wide-spread desire for good education should lead to an increased facility of access to the Universities, and he felt strongly the exclusive tendency of the changes of 1854 and 1856; but when he knew for a certainty that at Oxford, and, he believed, at Cambridge, eminent men were seriously deliberating on the subject, that some had come to the conclusion that it was desirable to try this experiment while others were engaged in devising a different plan, that some would go the whole length of the Bill while others would try a more cautious experiment, and one College would give a gratuitous education, he felt disinclined to vote for the second reading of the Bill at present. He should be sorry to put such a pressure upon the Universities before the eminent men who were debating the question had arrived at a solution of it. As to it having been before them two years, that was not au inordinate length of time for its consideration. He had great misgivings as to the merits of the case itself, and he would prefer to try an 1628 experiment by means of Halls with licence from the Universities, so as to secure good discipline. One of the motives which led to the foundation of the Colleges was the desire to promote order and discipline, which after all its alleged failures had, on the whole, been successful. They were not dealing with a want so imminent and pressing as it was assumed to be; at least, it was not quite certain that the opening of the doors of the Universities would lead to the immediate admission of great numbers, who, however, might come in gradually. He longed to get hold of the class in view, and that more than he conceived to be possible; for the great Schools had supplied many of those wants which in the Middle Ages were supplied by the Universities. Boys now remained at the great Schools much longer than they used to do, and on leaving them they began the active business of life, and he suspected it would be found that the majority would be content with the education they received at the great Schools. It was remarkable that the demand had been in that direction, and there had been no difficulty in adding to the large Schools in order to supply a pressing want; but in the absence of it there were not the same facilities for adding to Colleges, Halls, and Universities. He had a strong desire to deal with the subject; but he had great misgivings as to whether the Bill proposed to do so in the right way. He required more evidence and more experiment to satisfy him that young men ought to be admitted to the Universities without any connection with College or Hall; but if it were done, it ought to be the result of well-considered legislation in the Universities themselves. He would therefore urge upon the House to abstain from legislation which might not be necessary, and which might lead to injurious consequences.
§ MR. EVANS
said, that whether the Universities were national institutions or not, they ought to be as national as possible; it was desirable that many should go to them who did not; and it was a matter for serious regret, considering we had only two Universities, that so small a proportion of the population received the admirable education which they gave. While at Cambridge there were only 1,900 undergraduates, at Berlin there were between 3,000 and 4,000. In the large towns of France public lectures were delivered on mathematics and other branches 1629 of study, and he was told that numbers of persons made great progress in them owing to the aid they received from the lectures. The conduct of the students at the German Universities was not worse than that of the students at our own, and as at Cambridge no harm resulted from many students living in lodgings, he could not conceive why the Oxford University did not increase the number of its students by allowing them to live in lodgings. No doubt it would be better if the required changes were effected by the Universities themselves; but he must be permitted to say that the University of Oxford had been very slow in availing-themselves of changes that experience had proved to be beneficial. It was desirable that the Bill should be read a second time, but he hoped the hon. Member for Dumfries (Mr. Ewart) would have no objection to refer it to a Select Committee.
§ MR. SELWYN
, referring to a remark that had been made implying that University reform was obstructed by resident Conservative Members of the Universities, said, he had a confident belief with respect to Oxford, and positive knowledge with respect to Cambridge, which led him to deny the existence of any such obstructive party; on the contrary, those who were engaged in education had been for many years most anxious to extend the benefits of the Universities to the widest possible extent, always having regard to the proper maintenance of discipline. But had any one practical suggestion ever been made to those engaged in the management of either University which had been treated with neglect? When he sent this rough crude Bill to the Vice Chancellor of the Cambridge University, the Vice Chancellor sent it back, with the inquiry what could be the meaning of such a Bill? and he had failed to make the Vice Chancellor understand the real object of it. He challenged the hon. and learned Gentleman who talked of Conservative parties opposed to University reform to adduce a single instance in which a practical suggestion for the reform of the Universities had not met with careful and deliberate consideration. What the University authorities complained of, and justly, was that so short a time had elapsed since their institutions were subjected to revision in every respect, and that no time had been allowed to give these changes a fair trial. The Bill now before the House contained no provisions with respect to discipline, 1630 and the only practical suggestion which had been made during the debate was one which was scarcely suitable to this age and country—namely, that refractory students should be sent to prison. In 1856 the Act relating to the University of Cambridge provided that any member of the University might obtain a licence from the Vice Chancellor and open a house within a certain distance of the University, for the reception of students, who should be entitled to all the privileges of the University, without being entered as members of any College; and any Master of Arts of Cambridge, whether he belonged to the Church of England or not, might obtain such a licence. This was the extent to which, after the fullest consideration, it was thought proper to go at that time; and since then any practical suggestion for increasing the usefulness of the two Universities had met with the greatest possible consideration and encouragement from the authorities. They had gone a great way already in establishing the local middle-class examinations and the middle-class schools, which it was hoped would extend the benefits of a liberal education far below the class called the gentry, and the most promising students at which, by obtaining the prizes and scholarships, would be transferred thence to the Universities. He denied entirely the existence of any such obstructive policy on the part of the Universities as that which had been represented to exist. Before they agreed to such a Bill as this, which contained no practical suggestion whatever, they ought to be told what new grievance had arisen to make it necessary. It was a great difficulty to maintain discipline among such a body of young men as were assembled at the Universities; but that was done now and done well, by the existing system, and he urged the House to pause before they sanctioned a measure by which that system might be upset.
§ Ms. FAWCETT
said, he believed, with the hon. and learned Gentleman, that the Universities themselves were greatly desirous of dealing practically with this question; and he could fairly say, on behalf of the authorities of the University of Cambridge, that their great desire was to increase the efficiency of the University as much as possible; and especially to cheapen the education, so as to get as great a number of poor students there as possible, and to assist them in every way 1631 they could. He intended, if the second reading of the Bill was agreed to, to move that it be referred to a Select Committee; because he thought a Select Committee would very much assist the Universities in the direction in which they were anxious to travel. No doubt Cambridge had much to learn of Oxford, and Oxford, on the other hand, had much to learn of Cambridge; and if, in a Committee consisting of many distinguished Oxford and Cambridge men, they were to receive evidence from the most distinguished members of the two Universities, who he felt sure would candidly and freely give it, they would have an amount of information coming from the two Universities, and collected into the same volume, which would be of the utmost value in introducing future changes. At Cambridge a considerable number of the students lived in lodgings, and he believed that the education was greatly cheapened by that. There was nothing to prevent a poor student from living in the humblest way he chose, while at the same time he enjoyed all the advantages which the University had to offer. Possibly Oxford in the future, having gained experience from what had been done at Cambridge, might set on foot a somewhat similar arrangement. Some comparison had been attempted to be drawn between the professorial and the tutorial systems; but at the present time there was a combination of these two systems, because every one, unless he competed for honours, was bound to attend some Professors' lectures. The only difficulty he could see in the way of allowing students to become members of a University without becoming members of the University Colleges was that they would lose many advantages they would otherwise receive, and get no corresponding advantage in return. For his own part, he did not see any reason why College life should be dearer than life out of College. College life ought to have about it many of the advantages of co-operation, and a great number of men living together might and ought to be able to live more cheaply than if they lived separately. Students who were not in the Colleges would lose the advantages of the close friendships which were contracted between neighbours in the same College; and they would also lose the advantages of the endowments belonging to the Colleges. And so great were the endowments which were now given away to the most distinguished 1632 students that any youth with anything like distinguished ability would invariably obtain a sufficient scholarship to enable him to pay a considerable portion of his University expenses; and, in fact, at the present time in many of the Colleges they did not get a sufficient number of deserving students to take up all the scholarships which were freely open for competition. As a Professor of Cambridge University himself, he might say that his lectures were freely opened not only to the students of the University, but to any lady or gentleman living in the town who chose to attend them; and he was sure that the other Professors would rejoice with himself to see their classes trebled or quadrupled. If this Bill were rejected a false impression might be produced throughout the country that the Universities were opposed to any change; but the second reading of the Bill, followed by its reference to a Select Committee, would meet the wishes of many men in the Universities, and elicit valuable evidence which might tend to cheapen University education, and enable the Universities to exercise a more beneficial influence than they had hitherto exercised upon the national life and character.
§ MR. LOWE
said, it seemed to him that the measure was a little more practical and a little more urgent, at least, as far as Oxford was concerned, than it had been represented to be by the hon. and learned Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Selwyn). An enormous number of valuable endowments had been thrown open in the Universities, and probably the tiling was overdone at present, and the persons who obtained the scholarships and prizes were not exactly of the calibre that was desired when those prizes were thrown open. The remedy was University extension. He thought it was the universal feeling of the House that they ought as far as possible to sweep away the obstacles in the way of this extension—obstacles arising from religious belief, or from the material reason that the Colleges were able to contain only a certain number of students. If you limited the University to the Colleges, you limited the competition for endowments to the comparatively small number of persons who could get admission and could bear the expense of College life; but these endowments were originally eleemosynary in their character and founded for the benefit of the 1633 poor. He did not, however, believe it was possible to make College living so cheap as to open the Colleges to the poor, whom they wished to comprehend within the University. In these Colleges the sons of the gentry were educated; and though the simplicity of College life should be always kept in view, it would not be right to cut down the habits of these young men to the degree of simplicity which would be fitting in the case of poor men's sons. If they were so cut down, the result would only be to injure the University, without doing any good. It was therefore of great importance to remove any material barrier which prevented the competition for endowments by men of first-rate instead of by men of second or third-rate ability. There was another and still more serious reason for this course. By the present system of limiting the University to the Colleges, the worst Colleges were filled at the expense of the better. The desire of every man who sent his son to Oxford was to send him to the best College — Balliol, for example. But in Balliol there were only a certain number of rooms, and if a youth could not be received there he must go down in the list till he found a College which could admit him. Thus, in limiting the number of persons who could enter the best Colleges, you forced them into the inferior Colleges. This was false political economy, and entailed other disadvantages. The University was made up of Colleges, some good some bad, and when people said, "Oh, leave these things to the University," they must remember that the indifferent Colleges had a strong interest in maintaining the present state of things; because if a different system prevailed many of these Colleges would be empty. There were few persons who would not send their sons to Balliol to live in lodgings, rather than to some Colleges he could mention, where they would be locked up every night within the walls and enjoy all the other invaluable privileges of College life. Therefore, if they wished to give fair play and opportunity to those Colleges which really led the way in enlightenment and good tuition, and to whip up and spur those Colleges which now followed behind in the race, it was absolutely necessary that the College system should be made more elastic. The Universities had already taken two years in considering this subject. It seemed to them to be a large question, and, no doubt, 1634 to some of the Colleges it was an exceedingly unpleasant question. But this was just the reason why the House of Commons should take it up. It was quite time to do something for poverty in this matter of the Universities, and you must do it so as not to wound the self-respect of poverty. Old ways were suited to old manners. A poor man's son used to be admitted on condition that he were no tassel in his cap, that he performed the duty of a clerk, and waited upon the other students at table. Nowadays our manners were abhorrent from that; and the only efficient way of opening the Colleges and their endowments, many of which were eleemosynary, without injury to the self-respect of poverty, was, he believed, by a change similar to that introduced at Cambridge, and by allowing the Colleges to extend their advantages to students outside their walls. The University of Oxford had not made up its mind to do anything yet—the endowments went on increasing, the evil was daily becoming greater, and yet nothing was done. He thought the suggestion to read the Bill a second time and refer it to a Select Committee was an excellent one. The case was urgent and required immediate attention. Everybody admitted that something ought to be done. To their great honour the tutors of Balliol had resolved that if poor students were allowed to become members of the College without being obliged to live within the walls they would give to all such students the benefit of their tuition—the best in the University of Oxford—making no charge whatever for it. It was only the procrastination of the University which acted as a bar to this inestimable benefit. He hoped therefore that the Bill would be read a second time, the House thereby accepting not its precise words, but the general principle of University extension, and that the Bill would then be sent to a Select Committee to consider the practical grievance that had to be met and the remedy for it. In this way the House would give to the principle of University extension an impulse which he feared would not be given unless they took the matter out of the hands of those who had been so very dilatory.
I have listened with a great deal of attention to this debate, and especially to the speeches of the right hon. Member for Calne (Mr. Lowe), the hon. Member for the city of Oxford (Mr. Neate), 1635 and the hon. Member for Brighton (Mr. Fawcett). They all say, "Send the Bill to a Select Committee;" not that the Bill, with its half-dozen lines, wants any minute attention bestowed upon its clauses or its arrangement, but because they say the whole subject should be inquired into. If the subject wants investigation—if there is a belief that by a different system the benefits of the University may be largely extended—that inquiry ought certainly not to take place after this House has pledged itself to this particular measure by reading the Bill a second time. That is contrary to common sense and to all precedent. It is contrary to all our forms and contrary to common sense to read a Bill a second time when you are not satisfied that its principles are right. The right hon. Member for Calne has said there is a vast mass of valuable endowments that might be much more beneficially used; that the example of the University of Cambridge is a very good one, and that Oxford has been debating for a couple of years and has not come to any opinion upon the subject. But what has been done? It has been shown that an opening has been made at Cambridge for the reception of students outside the College walls; but what evidence has been given to show that any number of persons have availed themselves or would avail themselves of the openings thus made for them? We have three things to consider:—In the first place, are there many persons who wish to avail themselves of these advantages, and who now do not avail themselves of them? If that be so, what is the reason why they do not avail themselves of them? Is it that they cannot be received in Colleges, or that the expense of living in Colleges is too great? The next question is: If we take these students in the way proposed in the towns, can they live cheaply? The third and last question is: Will it be possible, under this Bill, to maintain reasonable and proper discipline among a number of young men at their time of life? We, who have been young ourselves, must all admit that if there had not been some wholesome check upon us when we were at their time of life the state of society would have been very different from what it is now. With regard to living in or out of Colleges, it is a question which has been very much controverted—whether the living out of Colleges would be very much cheaper than the living in 1636 Colleges. I am surprised that we have heard nothing as to the result of the system which has been tried at Cambridge. We may imagine that a great number of persons have availed themselves of the advantages it offered; but if in reality no such great number of persons may have so availed themselves, we should then be assuming a fact which has no existence. The right hon. Member for Calne has said a great deal as to the value of the endowments given to the poor, and he has spoken of them as being of an eleemosynary character. In some of the revised statutes, under the authority of the Act of 1854 of these colleges you will find that "poor" means £300 a year paid quarterly. That did seem to me to be a rather curious definition of the word "poor;" but it is the fact. No doubt we should all desire to make our Universities a large engine of education, as extensive and useful as possible, and no one is more desirous to see that done than I am. The right hon. Member for Calne said a great deal about the Colleges not receiving the students; but that has really nothing to do with the question, which is this: Whether we shall allow students to be members of the Universities without belonging to Colleges? I confess, for my own part, I do not see why Colleges which have clever tutors and good heads should not be made more extensively useful by having more pupils than they can lodge; but that has nothing to do with the question of admitting people who are not members of a College at all. In the provisions of this Bill there is nothing said about residence; there is nothing to prevent a man who may enter himself at the University from living at the North Pole. That, however, is a matter of small detail. The subject ought to be inquired into, but not by the introduction of so crude a Bill as this, which begs the whole question, and I shall therefore vote against it. If the hon. Gentleman chooses to move for a Committee to inquire into the subject and give good grounds for the Motion, I shall be glad to give it full consideration; but I do not like to prejudge a thing in this way, and to come to a conclusion which may turn out to be utterly unsound—especially when, with all the doors open at Cambridge, we have no statement from anybody to show that persons are rushing in to avail themselves of the opportunities offered to them, or that persons are willing to rush in, but do not and cannot do so on 1637 account of the existing regulations. I think we should be doing a great evil, and possibly laying the foundation for a great mischief in the neighbourhood of the Universities, if we allowed a large number of these young men to rush in without any discipline being held over them. I think I heard the honourable Professor opposite (Mr. Fawcett) utter a sort of opinion that ladies might one day be admitted members of the Universities as well as gentlemen. But if there were to be an indiscriminate admission of female students at large, and if male students were also to be admitted indiscriminately; outside the walls of the Colleges, without any adequate system of discipline, I think a state of society might arise which would excite considerable apprehension, and which would require frequent discussion at the Social Science Congress to appreciate the results.
The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Henley) makes two principal objections to the second reading of this Bill—first, that it makes no provision for the maintenance of discipline over what we may call a new class of members of the University; and secondly, that the second reading of the Bill would prejudge the question before it was sent to a Select Committee for investigation. An examination of the Bill will, however, afford us the means of a very satisfactory reply to both these objections. In the first place, with regard to discipline, it is obvious that the plan upon which the Bill is framed has not permitted my hon. Friend who introduced it (Mr. Ewart) to enter into considerations of the detailed machinery by which effect would be given to its principles—he leaves the consideration of the question of discipline to the authorities at the Universities; and that I look upon as a merit rather than an objection to the Bill. With regard to the investigation of the subject by a Select Committee, coming after the second reading of the Bill, I quite agree with the right hon. Gentleman that that is an irregular proceeding, opposed to the method usually followed by this House—although precedents may perhaps be found for it—but I take it to be the case in this instance, that the inquiry before the Select Committee would be an inquiry into the proper mode of developing and applying the principle contained in the Bill, and for which I, for one, am quite ready to record my vote. It is a fair question 1638 after assenting to this principle, what provision should be adopted to extend or to limit its development. The object of the Bill is this—In both Universities—in part in the University of Cambridge and strictly in the University of Oxford—statutes exist which prevent the admission to the University of any person who is not at the same time to be admitted a member of some College or Hall, or private hall, and which, at the same time, prevent Colleges or Halls from admitting persons except on certain conditions of residence. The object of this Bill is to annul the force of those prohibitory statutes, but to do no more; leaving those responsible for the conduct of affairs in the Universities to determine the conditions which should be imposed in lieu of the prohibitory statutes. The right hon. Member for Calne (Mr. Lowe) spoke with great approbation of the system which exists at Cambridge; and it may perhaps be right and wise—although I do not say it would be—for Oxford to adopt some system analogous to that; but I am bound to say I do not think the adoption of such a system would satisfy the necessities of the case. When the Cambridge University Act and the Oxford University Act also were passed, Parliament pointed out the absolute necessity of attempting to provide a supplement to the College system in the Universities by a system of private Halls. In 1854 for the University of Oxford, and in 1856 for the University of Cambridge, we recognised the insufficiency of the existing College system, and recommended a system of private Halls. But that system has utterly failed. Is it reasonable, then, that we should be asked to go a step further in order to meet the deficiency, the existence of which we have recognised, although the attempt to supply it has failed? This is only one step in advance of what was done in the former Acts. The system organized in those Acts—the system of allowing duly qualified persons to open private Halls for the reception of students, being answerable for the discipline of those students—to supply the deficiency has altogether failed and proved a dead letter. Although not literally it is substantially a dead letter at Oxford, and I believe it is the same at Cambridge. You are only asked now, then, to go one stop further in order to meet the difficulty. I think we should now endeavour to take in the great breadth of the question. In my opinion 1639 it is one which is so far from not being urgent in point of time, that it is rather to be apprehended that unless we now proceed to take measures for making a real progress in the extension of the benefits of University education, some two or three years hence, when possibly a more active spirit may pervade our legislation, means may be adopted for that purpose which will be more stringent and more drastic than many of us would desire. Let us consider the state of the University at present. I can speak more especially for the University of Oxford, with which I am more particularly acquainted. I believe that never within any recent period of our history, was there a time when the Universities contained a greater number of able and zealous teachers—men more earnestly devoted to their work—than they do at present; but while that is so, what is the case with regard to the degree in which these great establishments answer their purpose of supplying the higher education of the nation? In reference to that point I assert two things without fear of contradiction. I believe, in the first place, that if you look on the one side at the number of people requiring a University education, and on the other side at the number of those who receive it, you will find that there never was a period when the deficiency of the Universities in the performance of the important work assigned to them was so great and so manifest; and, in the second place, I believe there never was a period in the history of the University of Oxford, at all events, when it was able to do so little for the poorer class of students. I am certainly responsible for what was done in the year 1854. I believe it was at that time absolutely necessary that we should take the step which we adopted; and I think that there is no answer to the argument of my right hon. Friend the Member for Calne, with respect to the enormous mass of endowments now available for the encouragement of learning and merit, and the ludicrous limitation of the power of competing for these endowments. Let not the House suppose that the mere adoption of the Cambridge system would be a cure for the mischief; because both at Cambridge and at Oxford it is only a very small portion of the classes whom we all wish to admit to a University education that share in that advantage. What is the position of the Universities with respect to the clergy—the profession most closely connected with 1640 them? Why there has been no period—for many generations at all events—when so large a proportion of the clergy were educated elsewhere than at the Universities. What is their position with regard to the medical profession—always one of great importance, and becoming every year more useful and more influential from the progressive march of science? Why, there is hardly a fraction of the medical profession educated at the Universities. Then, what is the case with respect to the law? Is my hon. and learned Friend the Member for the University of Cambridge (Mr. Selwyn) satisfied with the position of that University in regard to the legal profession? Are there no signs of retrogression there? How was the judicial bench of this country constituted some twenty or thirty years ago? My hon. and learned Friend knows how great a change has taken place in the relations of the University of Cambridge to that highest branch of the legal profession. And, again, what connection have the Universities with our mercantile classes? Go into the great centres of industry and you will hardly find a trace in them of University teaching. But are these classes to be excommunicated from the higher education of the country? And does there not then exist a very strong necessity for providing for them the means of participating in its benefits? There is one subject which has not yet been mentioned in the course of the debate, but which seems to me to lie at the root of this whole matter, and that is the length—what I must call the preposterous length—of the vacations of the Universities. I do not believe that those engaged in teaching at the Universities could perform their work without long periods of rest: but the entire and absolute closing of the Universities for a period of six months—and in this respect I refer most especially to the University of Oxford, in which the practice is, I believe, carried to a greater extent than at Cambridge—must of itself operate as a bar in preventing the Universities from performing their proper work. Greater freedom of residence and of teaching, and therefore a more ample use of the numerous and ample staff of endowed fellowships for the purposes of teaching, and the extension of the educational period of each year, are essentially necessary to enable the Universities to fulfil their mission. There exists, then, upon this subject a great necessity—a necessity which has 1641 been frequently acknowledged by Parliament, and which we endeavoured in the year 1854 to meet by provisions which we are now compelled to confess have proved totally inadequate to secure the object for which they were enacted; and those provisions having failed, nothing can be more fair or more reasonable than that we should take other steps in the same direction. I therefore give my hearty assent to the Motion for the second reading of this Bill, while I am also prepared to support the proposal that it should be referred to a Select Committee—not for the purpose of altering any of its main clauses, but for the purpose of considering whether we can add to it any other provisions with a view to give to its principle a more complete and a more secure development.
§ MR. GATHORNE HARDY
I am glad to think that we can discuss this measure without entering into any of those exciting topics which so readily arise in our consideration of other University questions. I would wish, in the first place, to call the attention of the House to the real facts of the case as far as they relate to the question of the extension of University education, and especially as it affects the University of Oxford. Upon that point I can state that in that University a great number of its most distinguished members met in the month of December, 1865, for the express purpose of inquiring into the best mode of extending the benefits of University education more largely. The immediate result of that meeting was the appointment of committees for the purpose of investigating the different modes of increasing the powers and extending the usefulness of that University. My right hon. Friend the Member for Calne (Mr. Lowe) says that the University authorities have been two years considering that question; but in reality it is not quite a year and a half since they first assembled; and reports have since been made by the different committees which are at present under the consideration of the central body. It is therefore quite true, as my hon. Colleague (Sir William Heathcote) has stated, that the University authorities themselves took the initiative in the movement, that nothing whatever had been done by Parliament to call attention to the matter; and, considering the important nature of the proposed change, no such length of time has been expended in their labours as would call upon this 1642 House to interfere, and to force a premature decision on so difficult a question. My right hon. Friend the Member for Calne says that we may assent to the second reading of this Bill without adopting the principle. My right hon. Friend shakes his head; but that was certainly the meaning which I attached to his words; while the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Lancashire states, on the other hand, that he is entirely in favour of the principle of the measure. The subject with which the Bill deals is confined to two points. One is, that a person may, with the consent of the head of a College, become a member without residing within the walls; and the other is, that any person whatever may go to the University and register himself as a member of it, though not of any College, and without any check or control, as far as this measure is concerned, from any quarter. The Bill, I may also remark, Mould give that right to any "person," and would therefore, I presume, in conformity with the proposal of the hon. Member for Westminster (Mr. Stuart Mill) in reference to another subject, extend to women as well as to men. The right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Gladstone) says that the case is proved. It is proved, no doubt, to this extent, that everybody agrees that it is desirable to extend as far as possible the benefits of University education; and I should certainly be glad if the great mass of the clergy, of medical men, of lawyers, and of the members of the mercantile class could or would enjoy those benefits. But will this Bill redress the evil of which the right hon. Gentleman complains? I think not. You have to a certain extent already afforded that opportunity to those classes by allowing the opening of private Halls. That experiment has entirely failed, and the University authorities without pressure are and have been inquiring upon other modes of extending their sphere of usefulness. But what I object to principally is that the hon. Member for Dumfries (Mr. Ewart) should have thrown this Bill upon the table without any guidance as to the means for carrying its provisions into effect and securing the result desired, and because we have not been supplied with any data which would show us what would be its probable operation. The committees of the University of Oxford are still engaged in their inquiries into this question; and I am 1643 enabled to state that it is at present under the consideration, not only of the committees, but of the University authorities, with the view of submitting a scheme to the governing body. Now I ask whether, under these circumstances, it would be judicious on the part of the House to thrust upon the University any particular measure before its own members have come to any decision on the subject? The University authorities are now trying to do what the House of Commons proposed to do in the year 1854, but has failed to effect; they are trying to open its doors to classes to whom it would be desirable to extend the advantages of its educational system, and I believe that nothing would be so well calculated to fit those classes for the position they are now to occupy in this country as a free access to our Universities. My hon. Friend the Member for the city of Oxford (Mr. Neate) said that this Bill would be a return to the principle on which Universities were originally founded. That might be so; I will not enter into that question. But surely when you find that in former ages Universities were entirely separated from Colleges, the fact that Colleges were afterwards established and become the component parts of the Universities naturally leads to the inference that Universities in their former condition did not ensure the object which was desired. With regard to the statement of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Lancashire, in reference to the length of the vacations at Oxford, I have to observe that that subject does not come within the provisions of the present measure. I must further state that I have always understood that the Scotch Universities answered the purposes which hon. Gentlemen opposite wish to secure in this country; and yet I am told that the Scotch Universities have annually seven months of vacation instead of the five or six months which are given at Oxford. It does not therefore seem to me that that can be a reason why young men should not enter our English Universities. The fact is that this is to a certain extent a question of money. There are certain classes who are not in the habit of sending their children to the Universities; they believe that they can by other means provide better for their settlement in life, and that the time spent in University education would interfere with their early success in the legal, the medical, 1644 or other professions. I believe, however, that the Universities are acting wisely in considering how they may extend their action; and one of the proposals at present under their consideration, as I understand, is, whether students might not be allowed to keep their first year without residence. That would probably be found a great convenience in many families, while it would relieve the Colleges of the necessity of dealing with branches of education which would be more appropriately studied in grammar schools. All I ask the House upon this occasion is, before they legislate, to wait a short time, for the purpose of seeing whether the Universities may not of themselves act in this matter, and bring forward a satisfactory scheme founded on the provisions of this Bill, or on the results of any inquiries they may institute. The reports of the committees to which I have referred have not, I believe, been before the University of Oxford more than six months; and when hon. Gentlemen speak of the urgency of time in this case they ought to remember that more important subjects have been under the consideration of this House, not for six months, but for at least that number of years, before they could become the subject of legislative enactment. I think that as the University of Oxford has itself taken the initiative in this matter, the House may leave it for a time at least in the hands of men who must naturally feel most anxious to bring their labours to a conclusion that will redound to their own honour and to the benefit of the country at large.
§ MR. ACLAND
said, they had experienced the advantages of gentle pressure, and he wished to see applied to those Gentlemen who were incubating over those plans to which the right hon. Gentleman referred some of the same gentle pressure which had been so successful in the right hon. Gentleman's own case. The subject was now ripe for dealing with by the Bill. It appeared to him that the right hon. Gentleman had hinted at the real point on which the whole question turned—namely, the fact that there is not a demand for extension of the University among the class who now frequent it. The reason why Oxford was limited to the gentry and clergy was that the College system obstructed the University system; and the hon. Gentleman who had introduced the Bill proposed to cut the knot by making it unnecessary to pass through the Colleges in order to obtain the 1645 full benefit of the University system. He acknowledged most gratefully that the Universities had done much in the way of testing the results of education throughout the country, and also—perhaps more than hon. Members were aware — in providing apparatus for the cultivation of the higher sciences. But still the way to Oxford was stopped because men could not afford to spend four or five years there before entering a learned profession. The right hon. Gentleman had used words which might seem to imply that, as regarded the medical profession, the University education was a hindrance rather than a help. He was sure the right hon. Gentleman did not intend to give this as his own opinion; for he must be fully aware that the heads of the profession were most anxious to encourage University education as a preparation for medical study. They must shorten the time for passing through and increase the working months in Oxford if they would do any good. He hoped the House would assent to the second reading of the Bill, and thus enable the working men of the Universities to appear before a Committee of that House, and see whether they could not obtain from its Members a more cordial reception than they met with from the Hebdomadal Boards.
§ Question put, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided:—Ayes 164; Noes 150: Majority 14.
§ Main Question put, and agreed to.
§ Bill read a second time, and committed to a Select Committee.