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ALEXANDER THOM & SONS, 87 & 88, ABBEY-STREET:
LONGMAN, BROWN, GREEN, LONGMANS, & ROBERTS.
In the year 1845 an Act was passed authorizing the foundation of new Colleges in Ireland. The ends for which the Legislature took this step are fully stated in the Parliamentary debates of the time; and it is remarkable that it obtained the concurrence of all the leading men of every political party. It was perceived that the admirable education which had been provided for the humbler classes might gradually leave the middle and upper classes without that mental superiority which in a well-balanced community they ought to retain; and it was felt that policy and justice alike required that the provision which Parliament was about to make should be equally open to all sections of Her Majesty's subjects without restriction. This was only feasible by extending a principle already familiar from its application in our primary schools—that of bringing students together for secular instruction, and separating them for religious. Parliament, accordingly, provided the most perfect secular instruction which could be obtained; and finding that endowments from the public purse could not be applied to the religious education of the students, it invited private benefactions forthe endowmentof theological chairs.* It is to be regretted that this suggestion has not
» Colleges Act, p. 117.
in any instance been yet acted upon, and that the Deans of Residences, -who have been appointed by Her Majesty, and who have nobly undertaken the religious training of the students of their respective creeds, to this day discharge their onerous duties gratuitously.
It is evident that to meet the want which was felt by the Legislature both a university system and intermediate schools are essential. In the course of the debate Parliament considered which should be first supplied, and determined in favour of University education. This decision, which may perhaps at first seem strange, was in part founded on the known law that education much more readily descends through a community than ascends; and the expectation of the Legislature has been strikingly verified, for though the Queen's Colleges are as yet only struggling through their infancy, they have brought into such prominence the paucity of intermediate schools, and the defects of those we have, that the want has become intolerable.
It was left an open question whether each College, after the pattern of the Scotch Colleges, should be a University in itself, having a power to grant degrees, or whether they should be united under a central institution. The latter was ultimately decided on, and accordingly, in 1850, a year after the opening of the Colleges, the Queen's University was founded, and the Queen's Colleges constituted its Colleges. Difficulties seem to have presented themselves to carrying into effect a proposal which had been debated in the House of Commons, to unite the Queen's Colleges and Trinity College under one University. This is perhaps matter for regret, for although the competition of Colleges is always useful and healthy, this is not by any means uniformly true of competition between Universities.
In 1852 degrees were first granted by the Queen's University; and it is remarkable that in the seven years vii
which have now elapsed the number of our B.A. degrees which has been made the subject of much hostile criticism, is exactly the same number as had been granted by the London University at the same period of its existence; in Masters' degrees the Queen's University has the advantage; in Medical, the London University. Our numbers are, .moreover, rapidly increasing.
That the number of its degrees should be small is, indeed, the necessary condition of the early life of every University, for the reputation of a University cannot be made in a day. But the shorter our degree lists, the more ungenerous is the determination which has been shown in some quarters to view the Colleges only through the medium of the University. To show how unjust this is, the list of students from the beginning, matriculated and non-matriculated, to whose education we have contributed, is now printed in full, with the degrees or diplomas obtained by those who came forward to the University.* The main features of this list completely establish the injustice which has been done us. This injustice may be very clearly seen in our Engineering department: until last year there had been very few candidates coming forward at the University examinations for Engineering diplomas; and accordingly, in the argument of these objectors, all our work in this department, though it had been in reality considerable, was, until last year, ignored. It is remarkable, too, that none of these few had come from that college in which the Engineering school is most flourishing, and had been eminently successful from the beginning. Indeed, in all our departments the instances are numerous, in which our very success has diminished
* See pp. 54 and 89. Those "who have been both matriculated and nonmatriculated students appear only in the lists as matriculated students. The numbers which result, corrected with every care up to the time of publishing this Calendar, will be found in tables on pp. 285 and '286.