This post expands on my comments in the piece by Matthew Reisz on refugee scholars in this week’s Times Higher Education.

From the 1880s until the Second World War, personal connections extending to the universities of the British settler world (Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa) were crucial to many aspects of academic practice in Britain. Such connections had been particularly important to appointments procedures, bringing settler scholars into British universities as the same time as they took British-born academics out to the Dominions.

But the urgent need to find academic homes for the influx of European refugee scholars in the 1930s both re-orientated and circumvented this cosy system. Pre-existing connections opened a path for the admission of some émigré professors, then once in Britain their recommendations helped to bring out others. The Academic Assistance Council established by Beveridge and Rutherford set up a register that formalised this process. Virtually overnight, it brought into being a tangible, paper archive that recorded the kind of information that for settler academics had never needed to be written down.

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