There are plenty of myths about universities. Paul Greatrix captures some contemporary myths in this blog. But these are small beer compared to the semi-official myths that our oldest universities cultivated about their own origins.
The advantages to claims of longevity come from both pride and the status conferred by seniority. Many universities today trace their origins back to organisations that were founded long before they were recognised as universities. In some cases there is an established linkage; classes in a mechanics institute became the basis of a technical college which one day became a university. That’s not proper myth making. For that you need the audacity of our oldest universities, during the age of proper myth making.
The period that saw the development of these myths was perfectly happy with the notion that England was part of a sceptred isle, a precious stone set in the silver sea. Divinely appointed monarchs were descended from king David, the country was founded by noble stock, the Church the true inheritors of Christianity. The king’s universities, the bastion of the Church and educator of the latest noble stock, sprung from the same heroic background. These were extraordinary times, the monarchy, church and country were all under extraordinary pressure, and appeals to ancient heroes excusable, if unlikely to be true.
There was already a well established myth about king Alfred and the University of Oxford. University College happily acknowledged the king as its founder, helping to advance its claim to be the oldest college. The claims had been made in print, but William Camden’s 1603 edition of Asser’s Life of king Alfred included a new paragraph.
In the year of our Lord 886, the second year of the arrival of St Grimbald in England, the University of Oxford was begun … John, monk of the church of St David, giving lectures in logic, music and arithmetic; and John, the monk, colleague of St Grimbald, a man of great parts and a universal scholar, teaching geometry and astronomy before the most glorious and invincible King Alfred.
The story of king Alfred was plausible, involving St Grimbald, an adviser to the king and abbot of the new minster in Winchester. Unfortunately it had not appeared in any of the earlier transcripts of the oldest surviving manuscript. Neither had this from a later edition, revising the story further:
In the same year there arose a foul and deadly discord at Oxford, between Grimbald, with those learned men whom he had brought with him, and the old scholars whom he had found there, who, on his arrival, refused altogether to embrace the laws, modes, and forms of praelection instituted by the same Grimbald.. The substance of the dispute was this: the old scholars contended, that literature had flourished at Oxford before the coming of Grimbald, … They also proved and showed, by the undoubted testimony of ancient annals, that the orders and institutions of that place had been sanctioned by certain pious and learned men, as for instance by Saint Gildas, Melkinus, Nennius, Kentigern, and others, who had all grown old there in literature, and happily administered everything there in peace and concord; and also, that Saint Germanus had come to Oxford, and stopped there half a year, at the time when he went through Britain to preach against the Pelagian heresy; he wonderfully approved of the customs and institutions above-mentioned.
St Grimbald has lost his role as founder, now he is reformer. In this version there were already scholars in Oxford, and they were part of a tradition going back to St Germanus. Germanus had been a bishop who visited Britain after the retreat of the Roman legions in the 420s. Why would Oxford need to claim that a passing bishop found Oxford university in operation in the fifth century?
Here is the opening part of a history of the University of Cambridge from Edmund Carter from 1753:
I shall now proceed to give my readers an account of that famous UNIVERSITY, which is equalled by none in Europe, except it be by her Sister Oxford; and, even of her, she has the seniority by 265 years Her first original is said to be about AD 536, when one Cantabers a Spaniard, was a governor under Arthur, king of the South Britains… he procured Philosophers from Athens (where in his youth he had been a student) and placed them therin, by whose great care and dilgence, it was shortly after much noted for learned men
Carter proceeds to explain that he is ‘warrented by the authority of pure history’ to assert the priority of Cambridge over all foreign universities. As further evidence, he cites that Paris was founded in the reign of Charlemagne (it wasn’t) by disciples of Bede, and he has a letter from Alcuinus that says that Bede got his doctors degree from Cambridge in 692.
Even universities that no longer existed got in on this. Geoffrey of Monmouth was a source for many of the myths, and he mentions a king Bladud (the father of Lear). Embellished much later, in its final version Bladud returns from study in Athens, with four philosophers, and founds a university at Stamford, which flourished until it was suppressed by Saint Augustine of Canterbury.
So, time to set the matter beyond all doubt. In 1772 John Peshall publishes a History of the University of Oxford, focused on the period ‘to the death of William the Conquerer’, Peshall, who mentions the Bladud and Stamford story, provides this story of the first founding of Oxford.
Circ AM 2855, and 1180 before Christ, Gerion and 12 more learned Greeks accompanied the Conqueror Brutus, into this isle; – others, soon after, delighted with a relation of the country came and seated themselves with them, at a place, the most agreeable and convenient, at that time, for study, called in their native or mother tongue, Greeklade, &c – a word made upon the occasion.
Further details follow, including that the scholars wore a form of toga and a hat that developed into the mortar board.
Before the Roman Time this had been called the Literata, the learned city. The most celebrated Athens, Inclytum Oxonium – the Theatre and Emporium of all Sciences, – the Seat of Muses, – the Fountain of Learning; with other such like honourable terms. But in the Roman Times … this city was miserably burnt, and the university sunk and perished with it.
In this way, Oxford trumps Cambridge. You may say that you were founded in the time of king Arthur, we were founded by Trojans. We’re so old, the Romans burnt us down.
Although it’s hard to countenance these stories now, it would be have been harder for the universities to absent themselves from the national shared consciousness at the time, a time of profound crisis. Although these stories lost their credibility quickly, they reinforce our tendency to make our universities seem as old as possible. So, in Nottingham, if only we could find a plausible link to an heroic mythical figure…
The TaxPayers Alliance went after some headlines with a press release about the number of university staff who earn over £100k. They got them, but there was something curious going on. It was clear that the media couldn’t agree how many staff were earning over this figure. The press release made clear that two universities, yes those two universities, were not included. But neither were seven other of the biggest universities. The presentation of the partial data is misleading, the TPA didn’t get their report published online quickly, to allow for quick checking of that, so the headlines have now passed without much rebuttal.
Pay is without doubt a crucial issue for UK higher education. In England, OfS have put in place a number of measures in their Accounts Direction to draw attention to this, including requiring a justification for the VC’s pay and a multiple of that pay against the median wage. Back in 2017 when Lord Adonis was raising this, I noted that the financial miracles that were promised by trimming senior pay were far fetched, but it’s still important, and subject to potential industrial action. But here I want to focus on some interesting data questions that arise from the TPA report.
Basic Pay or Total Remuneration?
A question raised many times when first looking into the TaxPayers Alliance is whether they included clinical staff. Medical school staff often work for both the university and the NHS. It’s well understood that doctors are among the highest paid public sector workers, and therefore a proportion of the total remuneration of a medical school staff member comes from a very different pay scale. It’s also the case that research leaders in medical sciences are recruited on a competitive basis, and their university salary may well be higher too.
The old Accounts Direction, from HEFCE, required universities to publish the total remuneration for staff paid over £100,000 in bands. Universities with medical schools had more staff in those bands, not exclusively because of the clinicians, but it was a major factor. Here is Oxford’s salary bands 16/17 from its Financial Statements. The Medical Sciences Division is huge at Oxford, perhaps a surprise to know the university from the city centre as its main sites are co-located with hospitals in Headington.
It’s worth noting that there are three non-clinical staff paid far more than anyone else – total remuneration could also include royalty payments or other forms of income sharing, through spin-off companies etc.
The new OfS Accounts Direction makes a radical change to
this. It asks for basic salary.
Providers should calculate the basic salary prior to any adjustment for salary sacrifice. For these reporting purposes, basic salary should exclude bonus payments, market supplements, allowances, and clinical excellence awards and other such payments. For academics and other staff whose salary is partly funded by another body (such as the NHS, or the research councils through grants and scholarships), the basic salary is the portion paid by or charged to the provider
This makes a considerable difference to the scales. Here is Oxford’s 17/18 Financial Statement. Note that they have recalculated 16/17, which shows a drop from 485 to 184 people (there’s a new issue for Oxford, a further change to accounting practice now means that they are including OUP which gives them a new set of high earners).
This is such a significant change that it renders any time
series that draws on the financial statements highly problematic. Which may be one reason why the TPA sent its
own FOI request for the data. Although
they referenced the OfS Accounting Direction, they asked for total remuneration
and for 18/19 data. Recalculating that
data, and asking for it while universities were still completing year-end
processes probably explains many of the refusals. TPA also complain that universities refused
data because it would reveal identities – something avoided in their financial
statements. TPA say:
that the information requested constituted personal data. This was in spite of the information requested not requiring individual identification.
However, a full copy of the FOI request shows that TPA asked for names and job titles of staff earning over £150k.
TPA’s data is partial – of the 15 universities with the highest expenditure only 6 are included (in black below), but the report does not draw attention to the wider absence (only to 2) and continues to offer averages for the Russell Group where a only a minority of members’ data is present. Whatever their political point, their data is seriously partial.
We should see the conclusion of the Government’s Major Review of Post-18 Education and Funding this year. This will not focus on staff pay, but the mood music that universities are awash with cash, and full of over-paid administrators, is not accidental. We can at least ask that it uses decent data.
Universities play a key role as anchor institutions, but this is only part of a series of measures that seems to cement the notion that they are attached to a place. A university is really the people, not the buildings, and as if to emphasise this, there are several examples of higher education providers which have moved. This isn’t just places that have moved after merger (of which there are many) but providers who’ve upped and moved away entirely.
The phenomenon of universities moving cities is as old as universities themselves. Migrations were useful both for founding new universities, but also for keeping their home cities in order. Scholars left Bologna for Vicenza, but were enticed back after 5 years in 1209. A similar migration to Padua in 1222 was permanently successful. Scholars from the off-shoot University of Siena was reabsorbed into Bologna in 1252 but was re-established there in 1357.
There were later European moves. The Complutense University of Madrid was moved to Madrid from Alcalá de Henares in 1836. Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich started in Ingolstadt in 1472, moved to Landshut in 1800 and then Munich in 1826. These moves were often prompted by war or other calamity, such as the Royal Academy of Turku moving after the great fire of 1827 to become the University of Helsinki.
In England, the 1209 migration to Cambridge was successful and there is some evidence of migrations to Reading and Salisbury, but these did not amount to much. Northampton and Stamford were actively quashed.
Moving after restrictions lifted
Entrance to Oxford and graduation at Cambridge had been subject to religious tests after the restoration. After their removal there was the prospect that students of different dominations could attend these universities and colleges which served them moved. Spring Hill College moved from Birmingham in 1886 and became Mansfield College. Harris Manchester College moved many times, from Warrington, Manchester and London before arriving in Oxford in 1893. Regents Park College moved to Oxford in 1927.
Westminster College, Cambridge is a theological college, but not part of the university, moved to Cambridge in 1899. As the prospect of women gaining a higher education grew, Girton College moved to near Cambridge in 1873 after four years at Hitchin.
Teacher training moves
The teacher training part of Homerton College moved to Cambridge in 1894 but remained independent until convergence with the university in 2000 and receipt of a charter in 2010.
Westminster College moved to Oxford from its constrained site on the Horseferry Road in London. It had suffered bomb damage during the war and moved to a spacious campus overlooking Oxford (although actually then in Berkshire).
The College of St Mark and St John made the biggest jump, moving from Battersea and Chelsea to Plymouth in 1973. At the time the move was planned, teacher training was expanding but by 1973 it was retrenching.
The decision to upgrade Colleges of Advanced Technology to Technological Universities allowed a final part of distribution of sites, fresh from the UGCs approval of new university sites. Bristol College of Science and Technology was finding it hard to secure a location and moved out to Claverton Down in Bath. Battersea College of Technology agreed to move to Guildford, becoming the University of Surrey. Chelsea College of Science & Technology had been planning a move to St Albans, but when this fell through it joined the University of London and then merged with King’s College.
The London College of Divinity had been founded in 1863 and was part of the University of London. After its Highbury site was damaged in the war, it sought a home, finally settling on a move to Nottingham in 1970.
The University of Humberside was sited next to the University of Hull. Taking advantage of redevelopment opportunities it opened a campus in Lincoln in 1996. It moved its main functions there in 2001 renamed as the University of Lincoln, finally leaving Hull in 2012. The ‘our history‘ page on the website does not mention Hull.
This isn’t a definitive list, just another interesting (I think) aspect of the opening, merging, closing of universities. Remember; they can move too.
Institutional histories can tend to have a whiggish tone: the university has proceeded from small beginnings through some form of struggle to arrive at the perfectly formed institution it is now. There are fewer histories of the places that failed. This is an attempt to list them. At first this will include places that have closed outright or where, after merger, their original site has been left*. This will focus on HEIs that offered degrees, or other recognised higher education qualifications, under systems akin to our present arrangements. Mergers are complex to represent, as this post showed. Many are former colleges of education closed in the 1970s.
I am not including most of the dissenting academies in this list; not because I don’t have regard for them, but because there’s a fabulous website dedicated to them here.
Alnwick College of Education Housed in Alnwick Castle from 1944 to 1977 this is the higher education institution with the strongest case to have looked like Hogwarts (even if the Harry Potter filming was over 20 years after it closed).
Alsager College Cheshire County Training College was an emergency college founded in a former housing site for an ordnance factory in 1945. It merged with Crewe college and subsequently with Manchester Polytechnic just before it got university title. The site was closed in 2006 and all the buildings are now demolished and replaced with a housing estate called ‘Scholar’s Place’.
Anstey College of Physical Education Founded in 1897 merged with Birmingham Polytechnic in 1975, site was closed in 1984 after teaching moved to another site.
Balls Park Training College, Hertford Teacher training college from 1946, merged in 1976 into Hertfordshire College of Higher Education. Hatfield Polytechnic took over the site, with its mansion house, which was sold in 2001 and developed into housing.
Bedford College Opened in 1849 as the first college for women to undertake a higher education. Merged with Royal Holloway College in 1985 and all activities moved to Egham. Formerly in Bedford Square, new premises were open in Regents Park in 1913, these now house Regents University.
City of Birmingham College of Education Founded in 1948, moved to Edgbaston in 1957, merged with Birmingham Polytechnic in 1975, with teaching moved to Perry Barr in 2001.
Bishop Lonsdale College of Education, Derby Founded in 1961, one of the colleges that joined into what is now the University of Derby, its Mickleover campus was closed in 2007.
Bordesley College of Education Founded in 1963, merged with Birmingham Polytechnic in 1975 and teaching was moved to Perry Barr in 2001.
Brentwood College of Education Merged to form the Chelmer Institute in 1977. This merged with CCAT to form Anglia which proceeded from college, to polytechnic to university in quick succession. The Brentwood campus closed in the 1990s.
Bretton Hall, Wakefield Founded in 1949, teacher training college diversified into performing arts. Merged with its validating university, Leeds, in 2001 with a plan to operate as a faculty, but closed in 2007.
Brixton School of Building Founded in 1904, a regional college run by London County Council and then ILEA, it ran CNAA degrees in building, quantity surveying, estate management and structural engineering. Merged to become the Polytechnic of the South Bank. Moved from its historic site in Brixton, to the Wandsworth Rd and then to Elephant & Castle
Callendar Park College of Education, Falkirk Opened in 1964 as a response to teacher shortages, merged with Moray House in 1981, with the buildings subsequently demolished.
Chelsea College A College of Advanced Technology, first opened as South West Polytechnic in 1895, it considered a relocation to St Albans in 1965 but joined the University of London. It merged with Queen Elizabeth College and then with King’s College, London.
Coloma College of Education, West Wickham Formerly Convent of the Ladies of Mary, opened as a teacher training college in 1947. Closed August 1978 Buildings adapted for use as a Roman Catholic comprehensive school.
Craiglockhart College of Education, Edinburgh Officially opened on 20 October 1920, merged with Notre Dame College of Education in Glasgow to form St Andrew’s College of Education based at Bearsden in East Dunbartonshire. The building, a former hydropathic institution, was sold to Napier Polytechnic in 1986.
Crewe College Merged with Alasger College, merged with Manchester Metropolitan University in 1992 operating as the Cheshire Campus. Campus closing in 2019, the buildings will be used by the University of Buckingham for health courses.
Culham College Church of England teacher training college. Founded in 1852 near Abingdon. Closed in 1979. A trust was established after the closure, the buildings are in use by the Europa School.
Darlington College of Education Founded in 1876, the college had focused on training nursery teachers but diversified in the 1960s. It closed in August 1978. The site housed Darlington Arts Centre until 2013.
Dartington College of Arts The Dartington Hall Trust arts department became a college in 1962 and offered CNAA degrees. Merger with Falmouth was followed by relocation to Cornwall in 2010. The Trust continues on the site, with its international summer school.
De La Salle College, Manchester Catholic teacher training college from 1946, closed in 1986 after a surprise decision by the DES to close it in 1982. Site is now the Middleton campus of Hopwood Hall College.
Didsbury College of Education Emergency college housed in former buildings of a theological college, which had been used as a hospital until 1945. Merged with Manchester Polytechnic in 1977, the site was closed in 2014 and has been developed for housing.
Dunfermline College of Physical Education Carnegie Dunfermline College of Hygiene and Physical Training was originally founded by the Andrew Carnegie Trust as a training college for women students of Physical Education. Opened in 1905, it moved to Cramond in 1966, it merged with Moray House College in 1987 and the site was closed in 2001 after merger with Edinburgh.
Eaton Hall College of Education, Retford A 19th century country house, became an emergency maternity home in the war, and afterwards an emergency teacher training college. Closed August 1980, the buildings are now used by Jamia Al-Karam.
Enfield College of Technology Middlesex County Council created the Ponders End Technical Institute in 1905 , renaming it Enfield College of Technology in 1962. Under George Brosnan and Eric Robinson much of the thinking for the new polytechnics was done and the college combined with Hendon College of Technology and Hornsey College of Art to form Middesex Polytechnic in 1973. With the concentration of teaching at Hendon, the Enfield campus closed in 2008.
Garnett College A training college for mature students aiming to be lecturers, established in 1946 it moved to Roehampton in 1963, merging with Thames Polytechnic in 1986 when the students were moved to Avery Hill. Some of the buildings are now used by Roehampton University.
Elizabeth Gaskell College A training school in ‘cookery and laundry work’ was opened in 1880, coming under the Manchester Education Committee in 1906, expanding to cover teacher training as well as housecraft, it became the Elizabeth Gaskell College in the 1960s and merged into the City of Manchester College of Higher Education in 1976, merging with Manchester Polytechnic in 1982. The campus was closed in 2014 and is becoming a private hospital.
Hackney College Emerging from training offered to preachers, the institution was established in 1803, gained its new buildings in 1887, was made a divinity school of the University of London in 1900. It merged with New College in 1924.
Hamilton College of Education Opened in 1966 it merged with Jordanhill College of Education in 1981. The campus was sold, partly to a Christian School and partly for housing development.
Hereford College of Education A local authority teacher training college it opened in 1902 and closed August 1978. Buildings are now used by the Royal National College for the Blind.
Hertfordshire College of Art and Design Based in St Albans, was approved by CNAA, merging with Hatfield Polytechnic in 1993 it subsequently moved there.
Heythrop College Having its origins in theological colleges first founded in 1614, the College became established at Heythrop Hall in 1926 and moved to London in 1970 where it became a School of the University of London. The College ‘ceased its teaching activities on 31st October 2018’.
Hockerill College, Bishop’s Stortford Founded in 1850 the college closed in August 1978. Hockerill Anglo-European College (an independent boarding school) is now housed there.
Holborn College of Law, Languages and Commerce A merger of diverse London colleges: Bowling Green Lane Night School, Hugh Myddleton Institute, and Princeton Street School of Modern Languages it is existed from 1960 to 1970 when it joined the Polytechnic of Central London.
Hornsey College of Arts and Crafts Founded in 1880, it had a famous sit-in during 1968, achieving some notoriety. It was one of the colleges that formed Middlesex Polytechnic in 1973, the Crouch End building was later used by the TUC and is now part of a primary school.
Ilkley College of Education In large former hydropathic hospital, the college merged with Bradford College in 1982 and the campus closed in 1999. Building is now housing.
Jordanhill College, Glasgow Opened in 1921, the college merged with Hamilton College, and then in 1993 became the faculty of education at Strathclyde. Teaching at the site was stopped in 2012.
Kesteven Agricultural College Founded in 1948 at Caythorpe Court, it amalgamated with two other agricultural colleges (Holbeach and Riseholm) in 1980 to form the Lincolnshire College of Agriculture and Horticulture. That joined De Montfort University in 1990 but in 2001 the Lincolnshire School of Agriculture was transferred to the University of Lincoln and Caythorpe sold. It is now a PGL activities centre.
Kesteven College of Education, Grantham (main college) Stoke Rochford Hall was purchased by in 1948 by Kesteven County Council as a teacher training college, it closed in August 1978. Subsequently used as the NUT’s training centre, it became a hotel in 2016.
Kesteven College of Education (Peterborough Annexe) Closed in August 1980 it was designated to be used for in-service training as an outpost of Bishop Grosseteste College, Lincoln
Lady Mabel College of Physical Education Lady Mabel Fitzwilliam arranged the lease of part of Wentworth Woodhouse for use at a training college from 1949. It merged with Sheffield Polytechnic in 1977 who kept teaching at the house until 1988.
La Sainte Union College of Higher Education Opened in 1904 by sisters of La Sainte Union des Sacres Coeurs. Merged with University of Southampton in 1997 after ITT contact terminated to become ‘New College’. Site sold for housing in 2004.
Llandaff College of Education (Home Economics) The Training School for Cookery and Domestic Arts was part of the expansion of technical and vocational education in the 1890s. The Llandaff College of Education merged with University College Cardiff in 1977.
Long Millgate College of Education, Manchester Established in the Alfred Waterhouse designed former building of the Manchester Grammar School in the 1950s, the College closed in 1978 on amalgamation into the City of Manchester College of Higher Education, which subsequently joined Manchester Polytechnic. The building is now used by Chetham’s School of Music.
Manchester and Salford Women’s College Owens’ College was asked to provide access for women, and settled on a scheme for a separate college as it was not prepared to sanction mixed education. The College opened in 1877, but by 1880 Owens College agreed to take over its management and in 1883 incorporated the college as a Women’s department.
Maria Assumpta College, London Catholic women’s teacher training college in Kensington Square, closed August 1978. Buildings were then used by Heythrop College.
Maria Grey College Opened as the Teachers’ Training & Registration Society College in 1878, renamed Maria Grey College in 1886 it moved to Twickenham in 1946. It merged in 1976 to form the West London Institute.
Mary Ward College, Nottingham Opened in 1968, the college closed less than 10 years later in August 1977. The site was sold to the British Geological Survey.
Mattlock College Teacher Training college from 1946, merged with Derby Lonsdale College in 1988. The building, a former Hydropathic Establishment, is now housing.
Middleton St. George College of Education, Darlington Housed in buildings of a former RAF base from 1968 it closed in August 1979. The rest of the RAF base became Teesside International Airport. Buildings have a mix of purposes, but include the International Fire Training Centre.
Milton Keynes College of Education Closed December 1981
New College London The result of a merger of three distinguished dissenting academies in 1850, New College merged with Hackney College in 1924, both having become members of the University of London’s Theology Faculty. Consolidated on one site in Hampstead which closed in 1977. The buildings are now the home of ESCP Europe’s London campus.
Nonnington College of Physical Education, Kent Opened in 1938, expanded in the 1960s, marked for closure but diversified in the 1970s, it was closed in 1986. A Bruderhof community now use the main house.
North Riding College, Scarborough Teacher training college, diversified and courses were validated by Leeds, then York and then Hull universities. Merged with Hull in 2000 but announced in 2015 it was leaving the site now used by Scarborough TEC.
University of Northampton A university founded by members from Oxford and Cambridge, certainly in corporate existence in 1265 when it was ordered closed. The king agreed with this petition:
‘If the university … persisted there, it would much harm our town of Oxford … especially as all the bishops of our land have signified by their letters patent that the university should be moved from the town for the utility of the English church and the advancement of students’
Northumberland College of Education, Ponteland Closed August 1981 Now the Kirkley Hall campus of Northumberland College
Norwich Training College Founded in 1839 as a Church of England Training College, it moved in 1948 to Keswick Hall. The College was merged with UEA which then disposed of the site (on UGC instructions) in 1981.
Notre Dame College of Education, Glasgow On a new site in 1969, merged with Craiglockhart training college in 1981 to create St Andrew’s College of Education. Merged with Glasgow University in 1999 which left the site in 2002.
Philippa Fawcett and Furzedown College of Education, London Merged in 1974, closed in August 1980. Phillipa Fawcett college was re-named after the mathematician and educationalist. Furzedown was a London County Council college founded in 1915, its premises are in use by Graveney School
Queen’s College, Glasgow Originally the West of Scotland College of Domestic Science, it was renamed the Queens’ College in its centenary year of 1975. It merged with Glasgow Polytechnic becoming Glasgow Caledonian University in 1993. It’s buildings were acquired by Glasgow University in 1998 to accommodate education work including the St Andrew’s College of Education.
Queen’s University Peel’s plans for higher education in Ireland were predicated on a federal examining university, similar to London. In its first iteration only three colleges (Belfast, Cork & Galway) were allowed to join. The University was established in 1850 and dissolved in 1882. Its functions were taken on by the Royal University of Ireland. This in turn was replaced by the National University of Ireland in 1909.
Queen Elizabeth College, London. Opened as Ladies Department of Kings College London in 1885. Moved to Kensington in 1915, received Royal Charter in 1953 and was a school of the University of London from 1956. Re-merged with Kings in 1985 and site was sold in 2000 for housing (some using the original buildings). Ran the Household and Social Science course.
Queen Margaret College, Glasgow A women’s college organised by the Glasgow Association for the Higher Education of Women, it was incorporated in 1883 and merged with the University of Glasgow in 1892, their premises continued to be used just for the education of women until 1935 when sold to the BBC.
Radbrook College, Shrewsbury Opened 1901, became part of Shrewsbury College after teacher training closed in August 1977 was sold for housing development in 2014
Richmond College A Methodist theological college founded in 1843 which became a school of the University of London, it closed in 1972. The site is now that of Richmond University.
Ripon College Founded in 1846 in York, the women’s college moved to Ripon in 1862 before merging with York’s St John College in 1974. The Ripon site was closed in 2001 and is now housing.
Rolle College, Exmouth Opened in 1946, merged with Plymouth Polytechnic in 1988, site was closed in 2009. Will become the home of Exeter Deaf Academy.
Royal Naval College (Greenwich) Established in 1873 in the Royal Hospital for naval officers. Approved by CNAA for courses, training was reorganised in the 1990s and the buildings open to the public and used by the University of Greenwich.
Rugby College of Engineering Technology A regional college, but with 800 FT or sandwich students in 1969, it was proposed as a possible polytechnic. It merged to become part of Lanchester Polytechnic, all activity moving to Coventry.
Saffron Walden College of Education Opened in 1884, closed in 1977. The buildings became Bell College, a language school which closed in 2007. The buildings are now housing.
Sedgley Park College of Education, Manchester Formerly a convent, closed August 1979, purchased by the Greater Manchester Police as their training centre.
St Katherine’s College, Tottenham The oldest part of what will become Middlesex University, opened in 1878, it becomes the College of All Saints in 1966, closing in 1978 transferring to Middlesex Polytechnic.
St Mary’s College of Education, Fenham, Newcastle upon Tyne Catholic teacher training college, founded in 1905, merged with Newcastle University in 1985, buildings in use as hall of residence but now advertised for sale.
St Matthias College, Bristol The Gloucester and Bristol Diocesan Training Institution for School Mistresses opened in 1853, subsequently being renamed as St Matthias, it merged with Bristol Polytechnic in 1972 and the site was a campus of UWE until its closure in 2014. The College’s historic buildings are now the home of a Steiner Academy.
St. Paul’s College, Rugby Catholic training college, at Newbold Revel, which had been an agent training establishment in World War 2. It closed in August 1978 and has been used by British Telecom and now the Prison Service for training.
St. Peter’s College, Saltley Founded in 1852. On closure in August 1978 the buildings were sold (with a trust created from the funds) and used as a hall of residence by Aston, now it is run by a housing association.
College of Sarum St. Michael, Salisbury Salisbury Training College opened in 1841 as one of the first five teacher training colleges to be founded by the National Society for the Church of England. Although agreement was reached to merge with King Alfred’s College in Winchester, the college agreed to closure. Closed in August 1978, an educational trust was formed from the assets.
Seale-Hayne College Agricultural college built before World War One but students only arrived n 1920 it merged with Polytechnic South West in 1989, the site was closed in 2005. It had been in use by the Dame Hannah Rogers Trust but this has ended and the site is for sale.
Sittingbourne College of Education Occupying a former school building, from the 1960s onwards, the college closed in August 1979. The building was used as an adult education centre until 2018 but is now for sale with permission to convert it into housing.
South-East Essex Technical College, Barking Opened in 1936 to serve the Becontree estate, it became the Barking Regional College of Technology in 1965 and merged to form the North East London Polytechnic. UEL vacated the site in 2006 and it has been redeveloped as housing.
University of Stamford Founded in 1333 after a migration from Oxford, the university was suppressed by a writ of Edward III in 1335. Clearly seen as a threat to the two English universities, Masters of Arts at Oxford continues to swear this oath into the 19th century:
You shall also swear that you will not read lectures, or hear them read, at Stamford, as in a University study, or college general.
Quoted in Parker I, 1914, Dissenting Academies in England, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, p66
County of Stafford Training College, Madeley Founded in 1949 at Nelson Hall as a women’s teacher training college. admitting men from 1958 it developed physical education as a speciality which, after merger with North Staffordshire Polytechnic in 1978, continued to develop. The Madeley site was closed in the 1980s.
Stockwell College of Education, Bromley Founded by the British and Foreign School Society in 1860, the college moved into the former palace of the Bishops of Rochester in 1930. It was evacuated 1940-1945 and closed in August 1980. The site is now used from the Borough Civic Centre.
Sunderland Teacher Training College Founded in 1908, the college moved to Langham Tower in 1922. It merged with Sunderland Polytechnic in 1975. In 2004 the University of Sunderland sold the site to Sunderland High School which closed in 2016.
Thames Valley College of Higher Education Developing from a college in Slough, the College was dissolved in 1991, all assets transferring to Ealing College of HE which became Thames Valley University. TVU developed the site, adding a Richard Rogers designed library which was opened by Tony Blair. The Slough site was closed in 2000 and the university renamed as West of London.
Thomas Huxley College, Ealing Closed in August 1980, site was used by Ealing Tertiary College.
Totley Hall Training College Opened in 1950 as Totley Hall College of Housecraft, the college developed into teacher training, before merger with Sheffield Polytechnic in 1977. Sheffield Hallam University left the site in 1997.
Trent Park College of Education. Opened in 1947 as an emergency teacher training college, adopted the name in 1950, merged with Middlesex Polytechnic in 1974. In 2012 the site was vacated and sold to a Malaysian University, who did not relocate there and the site was sold for housing in 2016.
Victoria University A federal examining university created to provide degree-awarding powers for Owens College, Manchester and later for University College Liverpool and the Yorkshire College. Founded in 1870 it was merged into the Victoria University of Manchester in 1904.
Wall Hall College A post-war teacher training college in a mansion in Aldenham (which had been owned by JP Morgan and lived in by Joe Kennedy) it merged in 1976 into Hertfordshire College of Higher Education. The University of Hertfordshire sold the site in 2003.
Wentworth Castle College of Education, Barnsley Local authority college from 1948, closed August 1978. Based in the Grade I stately home, which is now used by the Northern College. The grounds are open to the public under National Trust management.
West London Institute of Higher Education Created from merger of the Borough Road and Maria Grey teacher training colleges and Chiswick Polytechnic in 1976 it merged with Brunel University in 1995. The campuses were sold in succession and teaching moved to Uxbridge.
Westhill College, Birmingham Founded in 1907 the College’s courses were validated by Birmingham with which it merged in 2001. The site is now used by the University of Birmingham School.
Westfield College, London. Founded in 1882 it was a college of the University of London until merger with Queen Mary College in 1989. The site in Hampstead passed to Kings College, some of it being used for student accommodation.
Wye College College of the University of London, but far away in Kent. Had origins in a medieval grammar school, but merged with Imperial College which subsequently closed the campus in 2009. Various visons for the site were debated, but the main building is now being converted into housing.
Yorkshire College of Education and Home Economics The Yorkshire Training College of Housecraft was opened in 1874, it survived, with a name change, to become one of the constituent parts of the Leeds Polytechnic in 1970. It moved from its building, a former school, at the same time which is now used by the University of Leeds.
* Am happy to consider the overall methodology. I note that the effect is that a college such as St Luke’s in Exeter is not on this list because its site is still in use but Rolle College in Exmouth is because Plymouth has left the site. This is slightly arbitrary but avoids having to list every incarnation of every merged HEI. This is a bit of a work in progress – I need to work out how to represent former health colleges for example – am very happy to receive other suggestions for inclusion.
Graduation is a wonderful thing: celebrating the achievement of students, admitting them to degrees and marking one of life’s milestones. For young undergraduates, this is a part of a series of transitions into adulthood, for older students it can be a change in direction. Graduation comes with trappings; the mix of a special formality in a communal setting.
As graduation has all these trappings, it is often the showcase for the Academic Registrars’ art. This is because there’s no right way to do a graduation. Different universities do it differently. There’s an inheritance from older universities, but the university can decide itself. You can do it in a hall, or a church or a stadium. You can do it with speeches, or songs or poems. You can make it traditional or modern (do have a look at DMU’s ceremonies).
I think that with a ceremony it’s nice if everyone does broadly the same. So it’s nicer if everyone wears a gown and is smart (within some sensible conventions). There’s a debate about the cost of gown hire, but no real requirement for dressing up beyond that, although the debate on formality will run and run. There are other debates that run and run too…
Rules on Academic Dress
Universities have regulations regarding their academic dress, which set out the gowns, caps and hoods, and how these are to be worn at different ceremonies. These are internally consistent at a university’s own ceremony, but one of the excitements comes with staff wearing the academic dress of different universities.
Take hats as an example. Some universities have banished the hats for graduating students. While Leeds specifies hats in its regulations, students on taught courses don’t wear them.
Those being awarded diplomas, first degrees and masters degrees at the University’s degree ceremonies wear academic dress: they do not, through long established University custom and practice, wear the cap (mortarboard) prescribed as part of full academic dress
University of Leeds: General Regulations: Academic Dress
Graduates of St Andrews don’t wear the hats that have traditionally been defined in their academic dress, including the distinctive John Knox Cap for those with doctorates. That doesn’t, I contend, mean that staff mustn’t wear hats at other universities’ graduations.
Hoods are another example. Traditional forms of doctoral dress have had different definitions, where the hood was only worn when the graduate was not wearing the coloured gown. Compare these versions from Leeds’ regulations
1939 Academic Dress PhD Black Master’s gown with PhD Hood Full Academic Dress PhD gown without hood 2019 Academic Dress Doctors: black Master’s gown with appropriate Doctor’s hood Full Academic Dress Doctors: appropriate Doctor’s gown, hood and cap
At their graduation Leeds PhDs now wear the green gown, green hood and a hat. Oxford DPhils aren’t so lucky, their full academic dress is the scarlet robe and hat. Given the variety of occasions that academic dress can be worn at Oxford, there are seven variations for holders of doctoral degrees (subfusc being the regulated suit and tie worn underneath)
Forms: 1. Black gown (laced, except for DD) 2. Black gown and hood 3. Black gown, hood, square (or for women, a soft cap if desired), and subfusc 4. Convocation habit (black gown, hood and sleeveless cloak [chemir], square (or for women, a soft cap if desired), subfusc, and bands 5. Scarlet robe and appropriate cap 6. Scarlet robe with subfusc and appropriate cap (Full Academic Dress for D.Phil.s) 7. Scarlet robe with subfusc and bands and appropriate cap (Full Academic Dress for Higher Doctors)
Regulations relating to Academic Dress made by the Vice-Chancellor, as Authorised by Council
Armed with this list you can spot the mistakes in Morse/Lewis/Endeavor. The good news, for simpler universities, is that Oxford DPhils can be provided with both scarlet robe and hood and wear them together. It’s your university’s rules – they don’t have to wear subfusc either.
Making your own traditions
You don’t have to stick with how its been done before (really – do look at DMU’s ceremonies), there’s always a chance to tweak things. At NTU we have a new University Hall across the road from our main buildings, which meant we reimagined a number of things about graduation. As an example, we have the procession forming a guard of honour at the end and applauding the graduates across the road. It has a practical function, but it’s also one of the parts that people like most. It’s a tradition now.
Make your graduation ceremonies your own. Embrace traditions, but remember that they’re just things that someone thought up once, so don’t be a prisoner to them. Once it was a tradition to have the national anthem at ceremonies – does anyone still do that?
It was a distinctive phase in the history of British Higher Education. The UGC had planned for expansion after the Second World War through growing existing universities and university colleges. Many of these had retrenched during the 1930s (and certainly during the war) so there was capacity. Other forms of higher education also expanded, with many new teacher training colleges and new routes in technical colleges.
The UGC received proposals for new universities but only acceded to one, the University College of North Staffordshire under the persuasive leadership of A D Lindsay which opened at Keele in 1949. Through the 1950s civic university colleges grew to a size and maturity that they could be granted University title; when Leicester got its title in 1957 that process was complete. The UGC agreed to another new university college, at Brighton, and invented a sponsorship model that would allow innovation. It also agreed that there should be more new universities, and so a very strange competition was started.
The UGC accepted bids for new universities. They established a new universities sub-committee and this set out sorting out a batting order of existing bids and evaluating new ones. This is well covered in histories of the UGC and in the accounts (sometimes heroic) of the universities that were born from this episode in British HE history. However, more evocative are the untold stories, of the universities that never happened, whose files remain as a testament to the optimism of local promotion committees who tried to get a new university.
The Team List
The UGC file contains two different lists of those bids they received, which I have collated, together with other known examples from their files.
First knowledge of application
Bury St Edmunds
Cumberland & Westmorland
Isle of Man
The UGC had considerable latitude in how it went about the process, with the sub-committee considering applications on their merits, with the UGC Chairman, Sir Keith Murray, setting the tone of discussions. At its meeting in October 1957 it noted the actively promoted proposals were Coventry, Gloucester/Cheltenham, Norwich, Thanet and York
The UGC still reported to the Treasury but was in communication with the DES. There were considerations from the part of the HE sector that DES controlled. So, for example, Dame Mary Smieton, the Permanent Secretary, wrote a helpful commentary on some of the leading contenders:
We are frankly rather surprised that the Cheltenham/Gloucester proposal is not making more headway. … So far as technology is concerned … we should be embarrassed by any proposal to develop university courses in technology in the Cheltenham/Gloucester area until the Bristol CAT [now Bath] has reached the limit of reasonable expansion, and that time is not yet in sight.
Smieton, M, 1961, Letter to Sir Keith Murray 23 January 1961 UGC 7/170 TNA
Time was of the essence. In effect, the batting order was driven by a set of criteria; focused on local support, including access to land and other amenities. The UGC also had an informal spatial plan, it was clear that they would not be placing two new universities in the same area. When York was approved, that knocked Whitby out. Blackpool’s chances declined as Lancaster firmed up its offering. Stamford had prepared a detailed bid, but other Lincolnshire towns became interested. A file note records the visit of the Town Clerk of Grantham.
Mr Guile said that interest in a possible University in Grantham had started up … when they heard that people were interesting themselves in the Stamford project. … Developing the case for a University at Grantham, if there were to be one in that part of the world at all, they said:- (1) While Grantham would not pretend to have the history and background of Stamford, it probably had a more lively culture at present and it certainly was more of an industrial centre. (2) It was two-and-a-half times as large as Stamford and might therefore be able better to cope with the lodgings question. …
UGC File Note: Grantham 28 April 1961 UGC 7/235 TNA
Stamford had been suggested as a site by its local MP on the grounds of both its historical links with Oxford and Cambridge and the opportunities afforded by its new bypass. Despite producing a formal submission, Stamford did not get approval before the scheme closed.
Each of the files contains the stories of the bids: The Isle of Man gamely hoping that the UK government would fund a university there despite them being outside the fiscal system; the hope that a university city of Avalon would be built next to Glastonbury; the note that Wolverhampton has good sporting facilities and a strongly supported football team; and the prospect of 300,000 beds being available for students if a university were to be in Blackpool. The files contain limited signs of consultation with communities, but someone was moved to write to the UGC about Blackpool:
I beg to strongly oppose the current suggestion that a university for the North West of England should be established at, or on the outskirts of, Blackpool. A university is supposed to be a place where young people absorb culture and learning not spivvery and paganism.
Britton, HW, 1961, Letter to UGC Chairman 3 February 1961 UGC 7/270 TNA
The rest of the correspondence is charming. Notes from the sub-committee members record the emerging picture, particularly as the bids come thick and fast. Indeed the UGC adopted a proforma letter to reply to enquiries from local authorities. By March 1961 the second tranche of proposals are agreed with the Treasury.
As hinted, the appointment of the Robbins Committee stalls developments. Once its report is published and the government changes, the situation is clear. The Town Clerk of Swindon hadn’t been that enthusiastic to start; his first submission notes that the council’s first task is to overcome the “widespread impression of Swindon as a drab and dreary town” such that it was not desired that the name of a university founded at Swindon should include the name Swindon, but rather be the University of Wessex. He keeps up a cheerful correspondence with the UGC over the next four years, worrying whether Bournemouth was getting ahead etc. In February 1965 he keeps the UGC informed of the prospects for a university.
It was too late. Copleston replied to say that he hadn’t tossed the letter in the waste-basket, that he hadn’t groaned, but he did hold off replying until the new Secretary of State had made this announcement:
On the question of new universities, the Government have considered the advice given by the University Grants Committee, and it is now clear that the target of 218,000 university places in 1973–74 is within the capacity of existing universities and other institutions of university status. … the Government have decided that no more additional universities or accessions to university status will be needed for about 10 years …
Crossland, A, 1965 Statement on Higher Education, Hansard 24 February
At this point, the new university process ended. The UGC wrote to all the supporters, even those in abeyance, to say there was nothing further it could do about the proposals.
‘Why should we not aim at … a vocationally orientated non-university sector which is degree-giving and with appropriate amount of postgraduate work with opportunities for learning comparable with those of the universities, and giving a first class professional training … let us move away from our snobbish caste-ridden hierarchical obsession with university status’
Crosland, A,1965, Woolwich Polytechnic Speech
From this would come the affirmation of the binary system and the creation of Polytechnics. Some of those authorities who wanted their technical colleges upgraded would get a Polytechnic instead. Some, such as Hereford, Glastonbury, Stamford and Salisbury, are still waiting.
References: The National Archives have the UGC files, Series UGC7 containing the sub-committee, its minutes and the individual files kept on each bid.
EEA Students on four year programmes will have to switch to Tier 4 visas when their temporary leave to remain ends. That appears to be the DfE’s conclusion, and what a mess that could be.
As we move towards some form of exit from the European Union, the inevitability that students from the European Economic Area (EAA) will move to being both outside the current Home/EU fee system but also require sponsorship through the visa system if not otherwise eligible to remain in the UK has taken shape.
There’s still a lot unknown, and probably unknowable, about the form of the arrangements after we have left the EU. The mitigating factor is that there’s a temporary right to remain.
While this scheme will be fine for students completing a three year course, there’s been a concern about longer courses. There are plenty of longer courses in England and Wales; integrated masters courses, sandwich courses, foreign language courses etc, but all Scottish undergraduate education is based on a four year course. So this was a key issue to raise at Education questions in the House of Commons on 24 June 2019:
This is a key concern. Some of those commenting on the change for EU students after Brexit have concentrated on the shift from a fee at £9250 in England to one around £14000 as being a marginal concern. This is to seriously understate the change. It’s a fundamental change in approach, but a key concern if it falls within a course.
Changing from Home/EU to International Student
EU students, even those who have not been resident in the UK, are treated similarly to UK students for tuition fees. They receive a tuition fee loan to cover the fee (£9250 in England) so the upfront fee is £0. The Scottish system is also £0 upfront (but without the loan). There is a considerable range of international student fees, and these include some particularly considerable sums when looking at the full-cost of a laboratory or clinical course. The swing is therefore from finding £0 upfront to finding £14,000, £20,000 or more (and showing the UKVI you have it).
Remember that an international student needs to prove that they can support themselves. UKVI provide guidance; a student needs to show they have at least £1015 per month (more in London) available to them. Although students can work to provide additional income this is constrained: no self-employed musicians.
However you frame it, the requirements for a student being sponsored under Tier 4 are more onerous than a student here from the EU. Application can be tricky, requiring a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) and a range of information. Then there are the additional costs of obtaining a visa: currently an application fee of £348 and an immigration health surcharge of £150. Then there are the ongoing monitoring requirements.
Transitional transitional arrangements
Obviously there has to be a cut-off point at some stage. Government is clear that EU temporary leave to remain can’t become a permanent leave to remain, but having this point inside students’ degrees is going to be problematic. DfE need to work through examples that include longer courses. It may be highly problematic that students from the EAA are going to have a more complex, less well-funded scheme once transition is complete, but consider how that will work for students part way through their courses. A key thing that the Devolved Governments could do is to extend the financial arrangements to those students until the end of their courses.