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day as clerks or shopHow are we to provide
middle classes, employed during the assistants. Many others are artisans. for the higher educational needs of such persons, who can study only in the evening? We turn, in this difficulty, to the old Universities of England. They are the national centres of the higher education. Why should not the Universities come to us, since those for whom we plead cannot go to them? Why should they not send us teachers, men of high attainment in various branches of knowledge? Such men could render a new and great service to the nation, if as missionaries of the Universities, as interpreters of the liberal spirit in education, they would conduct evening classes in our towns for men who have no leisure during the day."
At the same time the memorialists pointed out that such teachers might render another service of a somewhat different kind. In the great towns there are always large numbers of persons, more especially ladies, who have more or less leisure in the daytime-persons of good education, who desire to enlarge their knowledge and to improve their minds. Such persons would welcome regular instruction in literature, history, or science by ablė lecturers from the Universities. Arrangements might be made with the various towns desiring such instruction, so that each University teacher should have a circuit assigned to him. His time would be sufficiently occupied with evening classes, as well as lectures in the daytime; and he would receive adequate remuneration.
Such was the substance of the memorials. The University of Cambridge, in 1872, appointed a Committee to consider the matter. The Committee reported in 1873, recommending that the University should begin with an experiment on a small scale, by organising courses of lectures in two or three towns. This recommendation was accepted. In the winter of 1873 the University of Cambridge inaugurated the Extension Movement by establishing courses of lectures at three towns in the Midlands, vis., Leicester, Derby, and Nottingham.
The method of teaching adopted was, in its principal traits, the same which has been pursued ever since. That method has four characteristic features, the lecture, the class, the weekly paper-work, and the examination. The lecture presents the subject in broad outline. For each lecture a printed syllabus is prepared. This syllabus gives an analysis, a logical abstract, of the lecture, with such quotations or statistics as the lecturer thinks it expedient to print, and a list of text-books or other authorities on the subject. After the lecture the class is held, when the lecturer goes more into detail. Students are invited to ask questions, and the lecturer explains difficulties. The class enables the lecturer to become personally acquainted with some, at least, of the students, and to help them individually. At the class questions are given out by the lecturer, on which the students write short essays. These weekly exercises form an important part of the system. The lecturer revises the essays, and returns them with his comments at the next class. Lastly there is the examination. This is held at a short interval after the close of the course. The examiner is a different person from the lecturer, and is specially appointed for the purpose by the University. He issues a list of those who have passed the examination, arranged in alphabetical order. Those, however, who have gained distinction are indicated by an asterisk.
The experiment made by Cambridge in 1873 proved highly successful, and applications for courses of lectures poured in upon the University from other towns. Three years later, in 1876, a Society for the Extension of University Teaching was established in London, to carry on similar work in the metropolis. In 1878 the University of Oxford established similar lectures. After a year or two, the Oxford work was interrupted for a time; but in 1885 it was resumed, and has since been carried on with marked success. Other British Universities have also borne their part in the movement. Durham has been associated with Cambridge in the work. The Victoria
University has organised lectures in Lancashire and Yorkshire. The four Scottish Universities have united in forming a similar plan for Scotland. A Society for the Extension of University Teaching has been formed in the North of Ireland. In 1898 a Conference was held at Cambridge to celebrate the completion of twenty-five years' work. The statistics drawn up for that Conference showed that in the previous winter, under the auspices of Cambridge, London, Oxford, and the Victoria University, 488 courses of lectures had been given in different parts of the country, and had been attended by nearly 50,000 persons. Meanwhile the movement has spread to the British Colonies. Similar movements have been successful in the United States of America and in several countries of Europe.
In a general survey of English University Extension, the central fact is that the growth of the movement has been natural and spontaneous. It did not originate in an abstract theory of the duties incumbent on national Universities. It was a response by the Universities to a desire which actually existed in the country. It was their mode of complying with a demand which was urgently pressed upon them from various quarters. And the demand itself has been increased by the success of their missionary work.
Subsequent papers will deal in detail with special aspects of that work, and with the steps in its progress. The scope of the present paper is more general. And, in the first place, we may ask this question: Why did the University Extension movement begin just at that time, in 1873? What were the educational and social conditions in England at that moment, which caused the new need to be felt, and which disposed the Universities to recognise it? The fundamental idea was not a new one. Three centuries earlier Sir Thomas Gresham, the founder of the Gresham College in London, had the same idea. He wished to provide lectures of the University type for persons engaged in business in the City of London. A similar scheme was propounded in 1650 by William Dell, Master of
Caius College, Cambridge, who wished to see a University or a College established in every large town of England, which has been largely fulfilled in our own days. But such men were in advance of their age. Before the higher education could be more widely diffused it was necessary that the lower grades of instruction should be efficiently organised. It was only in 1870 that, after long efforts, England obtained a national system of Primary Education. Meanwhile the efforts and discussions which led up to that result had familiarised the minds of the people with the importance of the subject. The country was prosperous, and the working-classes had more leisure than formerly. The facilities for rapid locomotion had made it possible to have a system of itinerant teaching. These were some of the conditions which favoured the spread of a desire for higher teaching.
Meanwhile the old Universities had been passing through changes which rendered them more sympathetic with that desire. Between 1850 and 1873 a series of reforms had greatly widened the range of studies at Oxford and Cambridge, and had also opened them to large classes of the community which had formerly been excluded from them. The term "University Extension" first came into use at the beginning of that period, but was employed in a different sense from that which it now bears. A letter entitled "Suggestions for University Extension" was addressed in 1850 to the Vice-Chancellor of Oxford by Mr William Sewell, of Exeter College. His proposal was, in fact, to establish Local Colleges which should be directly associated with the old Universities. This proposal met with no acceptance at the time. The more elastic and more comprehensive system now known as University Extension dates, as we have seen, from the action taken by Cambridge in 1873. But since that time the growing desire for higher education has led to the establishment of Local Colleges in many large towns. It has also led to the foundation of new Universities, viz., the Victoria University, the
University of Wales, and, more recently, the University of Birmingham; while the University of London has just received a new constitution, under which, instead of merely examining, it will also teach.
This growth of Local Colleges and new Universities may naturally suggest a further question:- Has the University Extension movement finished its mission in our country, or is there still useful work for it to do? It commenced, as we have seen, in a time of transition, when the need for higher instruction was beginning to be more strongly felt. It filled a gap in our educational system. It was a pioneering movement, which prepared the way for permanent local institutions. Can we now say that its task is accomplished; or can we point to valuable functions which it still performs?
Two such functions may be named. In the first place, the agency of University Extension has still a distinctive value as supplementing our system of Technical Education. Within the last ten years the movement for Technical Education in England has become vigorous. The Councils of Counties and Boroughs, aided by funds which the State has placed at their disposal, have covered the country with a network of classes for the teaching of technical and scientific subjects. Technical Institutes have arisen in the larger towns. The danger which besets this form of instruction is that of narrowness. There is a tendency to make the training too exclusively scientific or technical, and to bestow too little attention on the study of History, Literature and Languages. The most enlightened friends of Technical Education in England are alive to this danger, and are anxious to guard against it. Now, the University Extension movement has always rested upon a large and liberal idea of education. At the present day it is one of the most vigorous organs of that idea. Thus it supplies a corrective to the narrowing tendency. Through the agency of University Extension, Technical Institutes can obtain teaching