Archives for posts with tag: uk higher education

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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Photograph by Juan Gómez – Photography

The Universities’ Minister, David Willetts, has raised the issue of mutual recognition.

‘I would like to see greater mutual recognition of qualifications so that a student born in Britain can build up credits for a British degree while studying abroad’, he said at a Westminster Education Forum event last week. ‘Not only does this build cultural fluency, [and] the ability to work in differing environments, but it also generates wide networks that form the basis of long term partnerships.’

In pressing for mutual recognition, Willitts is invoking a principle that has its roots in the medieval notion of the university as a studium generale – home to an internationally mobile population of scholars and students who enriched each other through their diverse experience and learning. Until the middle of the nineteenth century this principle was given practical form in Britain in the shape of the system of incorporation: Oxford and Cambridge counted study undertaken in other European universities towards their own degrees.

But in 1861 the English universities curtailed this practice and restricted mutual recognition to Oxford, Cambridge and Trinity College Dublin alone. In doing so they began a territorialisation of scholarship that has been with us ever since… read the rest of this post at

By any estimation Charles Waldstein (later Walston) was an interesting man.

Born into a Jewish family in New York in 1856, he was the Director of Cambridge’s Fitzwilliam Museum, the archaeologist who excavated Aristotle’s tomb, and both an organiser of and competitor in the Games of the First Olympiad, held in Athens in 1896.

But Waldstein was also a firm believer in a subject about which we have been hearing a lot of late – student choice. Seen as the necessary and desirable corollary of enhanced competition, student choice is central to the current government’s higher education reform agenda. But as Waldstein’s comments in the early years of the twentieth century show, it is by no means a concept that is new to British universities.

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