« PreviousContinue »
The University of Oxford is a body corporate, under the title of “The Chancellor, Masters, and Scholars of the University of Oxford. As such it has the power of holding property, of appointing its own officers, and of making regulations for its internal management. It has also other powers, or privileges, which are not incidental to its character as a corporation: the most important of these are that of exercising jurisdiction, both civil and criminal, over its members, and that of returning representatives to Parliament. Its Legislature consists of four bodies : (1) The Hebdomadal Council, which has the initiative in all matters of legislation, and which consists of eighteen elected members, together with the Vice-Chancellor and Proctors; (2) The House of Convocation, of which, subject to certain regulations as to the payment of fees and the retaining of their names on the Register, all persons are members who have taken the degree of Master of Arts, or of Doctor of Civil Law or Medicine; (3) The Congregation of the University, which consists of the Professors, Examiners, and other official persons, and also of such members of the House of Convocation as reside within the limits of the University for not less than twenty weeks in each year; (4) The Ancient House of Congregation, which consists of all Masters of Arts and Doctors of Divinity, Civil Law, and Medicine, of less than two years' standing, together with all Heads of Colleges and Halls, and certain other official persons. The exact constitution and functions of these several bodies is defined in the University Statutes, and in the Oxford University Act’ of 1854. The administration of the University is chiefly in the hands of—(1) The Chancellor, who is almost invariably represented by his deputy, the Vice-Chancellor; (2) The Proctors, who are chosen every year by the Colleges and Halls according to a certain rotation; and (3) Various Committees, or 'Delegacies,' which are appointed from time to time by one or other of the legislative bodies mentioned above.
The functions of the University are mainly two: (1) That of teaching, which is discharged partly by means of Professors and other public lecturers, partly by means of Libraries, Museums, and other auxiliary institutions; (2) That of encouraging and testing learning, which is discharged partly by the establishment of Scholarships and Prizes, partly by Examinations, partly by the conferring of certificates of attainment, or Degrees. It is open without respect of birth, age, or creed to all persons who satisfy the appointed officers that they are likely to derive educational advantage from its membership: and, subject only to necessary limitations of academical standing, any person who has been admitted as a member is eligible to compete for all its prizes and distinctions, save only that Degrees in Divinity are confined to members of the Church of England.
The Colleges are corporate institutions, within the University but distinct from it, which were founded and endowed for the purpose of assisting students during their residence at the University. In view of this purpose, buildings were erected in which the members of the College lived as a society together. The senior members, or Fellows, were engaged partly in study, partly in teaching: some of them were specially entrusted with the guardianship of the junior members, and as such were designated Tutors; others were occupied in the discharge of various functions connected with the endowment, the library, or the chapel. The junior members, or Scholars, were engaged in studying for their University Degrees: they shared with their seniors a common refectory, a common lodging, and a common chapel. The original purpose has been somewhat modified by subsequent legislation. The members of the Foundation no longer have the exclusive use of the College buildings: a large proportion of the Fellows are