Letter | Published:

The University of London

Nature volume 44, page 104 | Download Citation



IT seems to me that the force of the arguments of Profs. Lankester and Ramsay in last week's NATURE (May 28, pp. 76, 78), so far as they harmonize with each other, would have to be admitted, if the main object of a University were to foster that premature specialism, which, under the scholarship system, has already wrought great mischief to real education in this country, or to increase as far as possible the number of clever but half-educated specialists, with which a close acquaintance with any of the great scientific societies makes one only too familiar. The example of this has been well set by at least one of the great metropolitan day schools. The fatal weakness of the arguments referred to is that they ignore, as no University ought to do, the claims of general education. If the advancement of scientific research is really desired by University and King's Colleges, all they have to do is to institute on their own account a diploma of the nature of the Associateship of the Royal School of Mines or College of Science, and make the training for it so good and thorough that the possessors of such a diploma shall be such a desideratum in those “commercial” quarters to which Prof. Ramsay appeals as a sort of final authority, that they shall drive such creatures as B.Sc.'s out of the field. Special brainpower, highly developed, is no doubt a splendid thing in its way, and recognition of it in the field of science is fully provided for in the B. Sc. honours, and in the ultimate D.Sc. degree; but, in considering the terms on which a degree should be given, general education and culture cannot be left out of account. In Germany something of the sort is guaranteed by the examinations which have to be passed on leaving the gymnasium (or high school) before students proceed to the University to specialize; in England it has been found necessary to institute the matriculation examination. That need, however, is no longer so imperative as it was; and for my own part I see no real objection to the “leaving certificate” of the Oxford and Cambridge Examining Board being accepted in lieu thereof; for I speak of what I know, when I say that this carries with it a guarantee of as much education and culture as the Matriculation Examination does, and often a great deal more. I would only stipulate that it should include one modern language and one branch of science.

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  1. Wellington College, Berks, June 1.

    • A. IRVING


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