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It is often asserted that the number of students at our Universities is not increasing proportionally to the wealth and population of the country. The friends of the Universities confess the fact and deplore it. Their enemies make it the ground of a charge against them, as if the check which has been put to the increase of students had been caused by some impediment in the Universities themselves. No charge can be more unfounded than this. Those who are acquainted with the Universities and their Colleges must have seen, that they are not only willing but eager to educate; and that they are constantly on the watch to remove any obstacles which may hinder the influx of students, and to hold out increased inducements to the clever and diligent. Corresponding success has not as yet followed our efforts. Causes, which the Universities cannot control, have operated to keep down the number of their students; and those causes are not yet removed.

We may find such causes without searching very deeply. In some degree the effect is due to the great attractions which commercial life offers. Trade and commerce are, in England, high roads to fortune. Their domain, too, has been rapidly extending of late years. Consequently they are absorbing a continually increasing number of the active-minded and intelligent among our youth. And, since for success in them it is necessary that the special training required should be commenced at an early age, the natural result is, that most of the sons of the upper section of our middle class are at once transferred from the school to the office, often with less education than is acquired by the child of the artizan at the National School. It is vain to look for any addition to our students from among those who are intended for business. However much we may reduce our demands on the pupils' time and the parents' pocket we cannot hope to rescue the young clerk from the grasp of the counting-house.

A great cause of the comparative paucity of students at the Universities is the little encouragement given by the government of the country to high education. It has been the custom for the Ministers of the day to fill the government

offices with nominees of their supporters; often when such nominees were totally unfitted for the duties which they were to be called on to fulfil. The department, upon which the new comers were quartered, might report them as incompetent; still the Treasury, through its "Patronage Secretary," would remain inexorable, and might perhaps hint the expediency of not criticizing too closely the quality of the article, which parliamentary necessities had compelled the Ministry to accept. This custom is, happily, now giving way before the pressure of public opinion; and there are good hopes that our statesmen, at least the younger ones, may before long cease to regard the civil service of the country as so much capital to be placed at the disposal of the Ministry of the day, for the purpose of rewarding their partisans or conciliating their opponents. The impetus, which such an honest course on the part of a government, would give to education, cannot well be overrated. The borough politician, who wished to push his son into a government office, would soon learn that it must be done by educating him and so fitting him for the post; and not by tap-room oratory or the exercise of the screw upon a few dependent voters. After a few years the educational tone of the country would be raised, the benefits of the University would be more fully appreciated, and the number of persons anxious to avail themselves of those benefits might then be expected to increase.

Another cause, which has, perhaps, acted to keep down our numbers, is the exaggerated notions which some parents entertain of the expense which must be necessarily incurred by every student. Unacquainted themselves with the prevalent state of things at a University, they draw hasty and erroneous conclusions, as to the expenditure in which undergraduates usually indulge, from the few isolated cases of extravagance, which find their way into the public journals. They do not reflect that it is only the exception which comes under their notice; and that it generally does so, because it is an exception. The greater diffusion of information upon the internal state of our Universities, which is now taking place, must do much to dissipate those false notions and to establish a truer estimate of the cost of a University education. The recent change too at Cambridge, by which the necessary residence for the B.A. degree has been limited to two years and three-quarters, will materially reduce this cost, and will, therefore, put a University education within the reach of a still greater number. In fact no student now need be deterred by the fear of expense.

Again, there have recently sprung up throughout the

country some institutions of a quasi-collegiate character, where great advantages are promised to candidates for holy orders, and where, if common report speaks truly, stupidity is more leniently dealt with than it is at Oxford or Cambridge. To a man unconscious of Greek and somewhat weak in Latin the prospect of easily obtaining holy orders, which these institutions generally hold out, must be very attractive. He finds that success, for the most part, follows the completion of "the course." He hears that "plucking" is rarely indulged in. Consequently he is induced to sacrifice learning to security, and to slip into his profession by the smooth side-path thus opened to him. When he awakes to a consciousness of the mistake which he has committed, in thus depriving himself of all hope of attaining the distinction which the University degree confers, it is too late to remedy his error.

The work, which the Universities have recently undertaken, of testing the quality of the education given by the schools of the country, must, if properly met by the country itself, result in advancing higher education. To that work we may most hopefully look for an extension of the University at home as well as abroad,-in numbers as well as in influence. By means of these examinations each more intelligent boy will be singled out, and so will be stimulated to pursue those studies for which he has proved his aptitude. In the event of great ability being manifested the boy will be encouraged to enter upon a University course, by the reasonable expectation of obtaining some of the rewards, which the Colleges hold out to successful students. And thus we may hope to gather recruits from all classes of the community.

But the advocates of the system of non-gremial examinations, as they are called, must not confine themselves to applauding the step which the Universities have taken. We look to them for aid as well as for approbation. A most effectual way of rendering such aid will be by the establishment of prizes for the most successful examinees at each centre of examination, and also by the institution of exhibitions tenable at either of the Universities, which may thus induce and enable the prizemen to complete the education that they have so successfully begun. An association for collecting funds for such a purpose has already been formed at Brighton, and seems likely to be very successful. If the example thus set be followed by the other centres, a University education will be brought within the reach of every clever boy throughout the kingdom.

It is probable that those, who object to the step which the Universities have taken, as likely to cause the schoolmaster to

cultivate the minds of his more intelligent pupils at the expense of their less gifted fellows, may oppose the proposed plan of exhibitions, as tending still more to develope this special attendance and general neglect. The objection itself is not worth very much; since experience shews that where the teacher is attentive to the more clever boys, the more stupid ones are generally cared for. The examination system may make an idle schoolmaster give to a few boys the attention which, without such a system, they would give to none, but it will scarcely convert attention into neglect. And if it should be found to do so, the remedy is not very difficult. Let the conscientious schoolmaster, who feels that he is discharging his duty to all his pupils, and suspects that his neighbour is more successful with his prize pupils in consequence of being less scrupulous, invite the Universities to enter upon the function of School Inspection. Such a request from a few schoolmasters, who wished to place their schools under University inspection, would probably induce the University to undertake the charge. This inspection would lead to the general character and tone of the school being satisfactorily tested, and to due credit being given to the attentive and conscientious teacher, the less brilliant elements of whose character would thus receive their just reward; while the approval of the University Inspector would reassure parents, even though their sons, through want of ability, had failed in obtaining the certificate which the University offers to the clever and industrious. A triennial inspection of each school would probably be sufficient. It is unnecessary to dilate on the advantages which would accrue to the public and the schoolmasters from such a system. One only need be mentioned. What could be more advantageous to the efficient schoolmaster than to be able to announce to the parents of his pupils, that not only was his successful training of the more clever boys proved by their success at the non-gremial examinations, but that his attention to the interests of the less intelligent was witnessed to in the report of an Inspector, selected and commissioned by the University for that purpose? and what could be more satisfactory to the parent than such an announcement?

The Students of Law and Medicine form another class of persons who, in consequence of the recent changes, may be expected to avail themselves of the benefit of a University education. Such persons may, as has been mentioned, obtain the B.A. degree in two years and three-quarters. The Incorporated Law Society remits two years from the period of the Articles of a Solicitor's pupil, if that pupil have taken a degree at the University. Consequently the young man, who is

going into a Solicitor's office, will lose no time by coming to the University, and will gain enormously in general knowledge, social standing, and connexion. By entering at the age of 17, he may take his degree before he is 20, and will thus gain these advantages at a time of life when he would otherwise be a mere copying clerk in the office of his principal.

At present the number of Medical Students at the Universities is small, in spite of the high value which has always been placed on the University degrees in Medicine. Yet as the time of study has been shortened and the expense diminished, this high value ought to have some weight with medical students who wish to take a foremost rank in their profession. The subject of medical education in general as well as of the peculiar advantages which Cambridge holds out to medical students is, however, too large to be discussed in the present paper. It can be but thus hastily glanced at.

One point more. At present the aid which the Colleges at Cambridge afford to students, in Scholarships and Exhibitions, is considerable. It is probable too that the labours of the Cambridge University Commissioners will result in largely increasing this aid. Consequently any Student of ability and industry may fairly reckon upon obtaining some pecuniary assistance from his College. In fact, there will be no institutions in England at which clever men may obtain education at so small a cost.

A consideration of the points, suggested in the foregoing remarks, will conduce to the formation of a juster estimate of the causes which have operated to hinder the growth of the Universities; and will shew that so far from blame in the matter being attributable to those institutions themselves, they should receive credit for endeavours to further the education of the country and to extend their advantages as widely as possible. Whether our endeavours shall be successful or not, depends chiefly upon the country itself. We have opened the path; others must send the travellers.

W. M. C.

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