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Every year since 1888, when the first Summer Meeting was held at Oxford, large numbers of students are invited from all parts of the country to pass three or four weeks at one or other of the old Universities, where their time is divided between study and recreation. Coming from the busy centres of industry and commerce, they are brought under the subtle influences of that genius loci which haunts our venerable seats of learning, and thus form definite local associations with the Alma Mater already known to them in the persons of her emissaries. The large attendance at these Summer Meetings, the interest which they excite, and the pleasures which they give, are among the signs that our Universities were well inspired in entering upon a movement which has already had such good results, and which, as we believe, has still a work of great usefulness to do.
THE HIGHER EDUCATION OF
MRS HENRY SIDGWICK.
[The lecture on the development of the Higher Education of Women in England during the century, which I was unable to give at the Summer Meeting in August, was not only never written, but I had not got so far even as to collect all the material I hoped to obtain for the purpose. Moreover for various reasons I am unable to develop the subject as I should like now. All I can do is to put down a few facts and considerations which may help to fill the gap there would otherwise be in the account of the educational work of the century. E. M. S.]
It would not of course be true to say that in the earlier part of the century there was no secondary or higher education possible for women. There were some private schools with high ideals well carried out, there were some girls who were well educated at home by their fathers, and there were some women, Mrs Somerville, for instance, who contrived notwithstanding difficulties to obtain higher education. Moreover we find Mrs Barbauld and others encouraging girls to devote themselves to more advanced studies-such as Hebrew-after their schoolroom days were over. The general level of educa
tion was nevertheless deplorable, and those who really wished their girls to have a good secondary education found it extremely difficult to provide it on account of the scarcity of teachers of their own sex who had any intellectual training whatever. It was this professional demand for educated governesses which led to the founding of Queen's College, Harley Street, under the auspices of the Governesses' Benevolent Institution in 1848, and of Bedford College in 1849. These were the beginnings of any systematic provision of Higher Education for women. The popular view at that time of women's intellectual incapacity for receiving it, which long neglect had rendered plausible, may be gauged by the oftenquoted remark of Professor F. D. Maurice, in an inaugural lecture respecting Queen's College:
"We have set down mathematics in our course of studies, knowing that we might thereby encounter the charge of giving a little learning, which is dangerous, but being ready to meet that charge in this case as in others. We are aware that our pupils are not likely to advance far in mathematics, but we believe that if they learn really what they do learn they will not have got what is dangerous, but what is safe."
The next step attempted was due to the desire of women to equip themselves for another profession. In 1856, Miss J. M. · White endeavoured to obtain admission to the medical examinations of the University of London, an attempt which was repeated by Mrs Garrett Anderson in 1862. These efforts failed, and it was not till 1878 that the University of London admitted women to its degree examinations and degrees. Now at the end of the century-in the newly-constituted teaching University for London, women are on an equality with men, and the University includes two colleges for women, Bedford College and the Royal Holloway College (founded in 1887), as schools of the University, besides the London School of Medicine for Women (founded in 1875), and besides University College, which admits women to its classes.
The movement for the provision of better secondary and higher education for women was part of a general educational awakening in the country, and a powerful stimulus was given to it by the Schools Inquiry Commission, which sat from 1864 to the end of 1867, and reported in Dec. 1867. The Assistant Commissioners, who had examined and reported on the condition of secondary education in various districts, gave a deplorable account of the insufficiency of the girls' schools and of the immense difficulty of finding any adequately-educated female teachers for them, and this was confirmed by the evidence of Miss Beale, Miss Buss, Miss Davies, Miss Clough and others.
The Commission recommended the establishment of further colleges for women, and in particular supported the proposal then recently promulgated by the founders of Girton College for the establishment of a new college, “designed to hold in relation to Girls' schools and home training a position analogous to that occupied by the Universities towards the public schools for boys." This College began its existence at Hitchin in 1869 and worked from the first for the examinations of the University of Cambridge, as also did Newnham College, of which we may take either the establishment of lectures for women in Cambridge in 1870, or the opening by Miss Clough of a house for students in Regent Street in 1871, as the beginning. The Honour degree examinations of the University were formally opened to students of Girton and Newnham Colleges in 1881. In the meanwhile Somerville College and Lady Margaret Hall were founded at Oxford in 1879; and some of the examinations of Oxford University were first opened in 1884, and others from time to time afterwards as required. The Victoria University was opened in 1880; the Scottish Universities admitted women in 1892, and the University of Durham in 1895. The new University of Wales has from the first admitted women on equal terms with men; and the Royal University of Ireland, which is an examining body, is, with its affiliated Colleges, similarly open to them.
There are now in the United Kingdom hundreds of women reading for degree examinations and a few engaged in study of a more advanced character. At Cambridge alone there are at Newnham and Girton Colleges at this moment 284 students.
Progress as rapid as this would not of course have taken place unless it had been accompanied by the growing approval of public opinion. It seems now to be generally admitted that University education for women is needed. Almost all, I think, who took part on either side in the controversy of 1897 about admitting women to degrees at Cambridge were concerned to make it understood that they did not dispute the desirability of women—at least some women-receiving the higher education which Universities give. The discussion turned in the main on questions quite different from those which would have been raised thirty years ago. Then we should have been expected to consider whether women were intellectually capable of profiting by a University education. Examinations and the subsequent work of examinees have now convinced the world that they are. Then we should have been expected to prove that physically they were equal to the strain, or supposed strain, and that their health need not suffer, at the time or afterwards. Now, statistics collected on both sides of the Atlantic, not to speak of common experience and observation, have for most of us placed beyond question the conclusion that the danger is not materially greater in the case of women than of men. Then we should have had to meet the objection that University education would unfit women for the functions and duties of wives and mothers. Now that the daughters of the first generation of University women are entering our colleges, this question too can be put aside.
Those of us who have from the first believed that opportunities of receiving University education ought to be open to women, have, of course, the gratification of finding their own prognostications fulfilled. But it is upon far more than this that we have to congratulate ourselves. For these questions