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admitted to all the Honours examinations of the University and to those which are required as a preliminary qualification for them; their names are published in the same form, and at the same time, as those of men, and they receive under the hand of the ViceChancellor an official certificate of their place. The scheme thus adopted has worked most satisfactorily. But it has not satisfied everybody; and a short time ago a self-constituted committee began to agitate for further changes. Before their proposals had taken shape, Professor H. Sidgwick, whose conspicuous services to the cause of women's higher education place his action above the reach of misconstruction, feeling the inconveniences of raising, after so short an interval, a question regarded in many quarters as definitely settled, endeavoured to ascertain the disposition of the friends of female education in Cambridge with regard to this movement of the committee. He accordingly circulated for signature a statement in the following terms: We, the undersigned, being resident members of the Senate who support the admission of women to Tripos examinations, are of opinion that it is undesirable at present to raise the question of admitting them to degrees." This statement has been signed by 155 members of the Senate, or thirty-two more than signed the memorial already referred to. These signatures include those of the Master of Caius, the Master of Peterhouse, Prof Adams, Prof. Cayley, Prof. Clarke, Prof. Cowell, Prof. Creighton, Prof. Dewar, Prof. Hart, Prof. Hughes, Prof. Jebb, Prof. Kennedy, Prof. Latham, Prof. Lewis, Prof. Marshall, Prof. Mayor, Prof. Seeley, Prof. Skeat, Prof. J. J. Thomson, Prof. Westcott, Mr. Appleton, Dr. Peile, Dr. Reid, Mr. Robertson Smith, Mr. Stanton, Mr. Sedley Taylor, Mr. Trotter and Mr. Aldis Wright.* Unfortunately, however, this expression of adverse opinion has failed to influence the action of the committee, and they still adhere to their course of forcing the consideration of this question upon an unwilling university.
The committee, which, with the exception of Prof. Liveing and Dr. Jackson,t consists entirely of persons not resident in Cambridge, has issued, besides memorials for signature, a short statement, in the form of a circular, of the objects which they have in view, and the arguments which they advance in support of them,
* It should be added that some of these 155 would probably vote for the admission of women to degrees if the issue were definitely raised, but their number would be much more than counterbalanced by those who oppose the admission of women to examinations altogether, and to whom, of course, Prof. Sidgwick's circular was not sent.
+ The following are the Committee : Dr. Abbott, Rev. G. Calthrop, Rev. Llewelyn Davies, Archdeacon Emery, Dr. Jackson, Prof. Liveing, Mr. Westlake, Q.C., Miss Davies, (Louisa) Lady Goldsmid, Mrs. Nevile Lubbock, Mrs. Croom Robertson, the Dowager Lady Stanley of Alderley, Miss Kensington (Hon. Sec.)
I am indebted to the courtesy of Miss Davies, a member of the Committee, for copies of these documents.
The objects of the Committee are briefly the unrestricted admission of women to membership of the University, and to its degrees on the same conditions as men. The full import of this proposal will be seen below. But it may be pointed out at the outset that it is more than doubtful whether, under the existing statutes, it is possible for women either to enter or to graduate in the University; and that, at least, both sides would agree that this doubt must be settled before any actual admission could take place. The Committee begin by bringing a number of objections against the present system which, they say " has proved defective in some important respects. It regards the students in women colleges simply as candidates for certificates, leaving them dependent on the voluntary courtesy of individuals in respect of the University teaching, and appliances for instruction; it admits to the Honours examinations only, excluding those for the ordinary degree, and thus fails to make any provision for those to whom the pressure of an Honours course might be injurious ; and it offers to all, including those who have pursued precisely the same curriculum as that laid down for undergraduates, the gift of a certificate only, instead of a degree, thus conferring a very inadequate mark of recognition.” Of these three objections there is one which does not touch the main question, and which may at once be shortly disposed of. If the Committee or anyone else can prove that it is advisable to admit women to the examinations for the ordinary degree, the University will, I am convinced, be found most willing to admit them; and I, for one, would be most glad to support the proposal. But, until this is done, and until it is shown that the Higher Local examinations, which are ignored in the circular, although they are extensively utilized by one of the women's colleges, are insufficient for the purpose, I see no reason for departure from the lines which were laid down by the University six years ago.
Of the other two objections, by far the most important is the one which relates to the “very inadequate recognition," asserted to be furnished by the certificate. This objection, however, rests on a misconception of the facts. It is the appearance of a candidate's name in the Tripos lists that is the real and adequate recognition of her merits, and it is the publicity and permanence of this record which gives its value to either degree or certificate. In fact it is the place which is the “ degree,” good or bad, as the case may be, and the rest is mere official confirmation. No competent head-master or body of electors would take anything but the place as a test in filling up an appointment; and no competent candidate would be at a disadvantage if, through poverty or accident, he had not taken a B.A. degree. How much less so, then, if under the regulations it had been impossible for him to do so? It would hardly have been necessary to insist on these most obvious considerations, if a recent case of high distinction in the Classical Tripos were not being turned to account in emphasizing the supposed disadvantage. In the Report of Girton College (for 1887), after felicitations upon Miss Ramsay's success—felicitations which I feel privileged to share-it is stated that this has "given an impetus to a movement which has been set on foot for obtaining the extension to women of the degrees of the University of Cambridge.” If this is so, it is a proof how little it takes to influence the "public" judgment in such matters, as it would have been hardly possible to select a clearer example of the comparative insignificance of the degree. It is the publicity of the Tripos, and the fact that it is open to men and women alike that have made Miss Ramsay at present, perhaps, the best known of the Queen's female subjects; and it is difficult to see what she would gain by receiving a title which she would share with men who had taken the most ordinary of degrees in the most secluded of Specials.
It must not be supposed that I maintain that the degree (of which it must be remembered I am at present speaking solely as a "stamp," which shows the holder to have passed through a certain course, and to have reached a certain standard) would be of no advantage to women. It has the advantage of brevity and convenience. The letters B.A. explain themselves. A certificate requires a little explanation. The necessity of this explanation could not at any time be called a serious drawback. As the conditions of the Cambridge examination are more widely known, it must disappear altogether, and for my part I am inclined to believe that the public attention which has been lately directed towards the Triposes has already done away with it.
The Committee, though not venturing to assert that students who would otherwise have come to Cambridge are drawn elsewhere by the attractions of a degree,* go on to intimate that "it is certain that those who have gone through the Cambridge course are of opinion that, other things being equal, they are placed at a disadvantage as compared with other women who have the status of graduates." It is difficult to deal with a statement thus attenuated. If “other things being equal” means that, of two candidates for an appointment who have taken exactly the same place in a Cambridge Tripos, the one who has also taken a qualification in, say, the University of London is preferred, I see no hardship in that. For to have gone through another and a different curriculum is an additional proof of competency. But if it means that if two candidates have gained what are presumedly the same distinctions, the one at Cambridge and the other at London, the London graduate will have the preference simply because she is a graduate, then I must reply that, so far as I know, “those who have gone through the Cambridge course," are not of this opinion, and that, if they are, their opinion is mistaken. I have made some inquiries of my former pupils and friends among the certificated students. One of them, a most successful teacher in the metropolis, told me that she thought the possession of a certificate or a degree made absolutely no difference. Another, also distinguished as a lecturer in London, answered that it made no difference, except to “Americans and to people who did not understand about it.” The latter statement, however, was corrected by another old Cambridge student present, who said that she had been offered an appointment in America, and that, when she was asked about her degree, and she explained that she had only taken the examination and received the certificate, the reply was that “that did just as well.” As a matter of fact, the variety in recognition is well understood in America ; and the wife of a professor in the Johns Hopkins University told me that a woman would much prefer to be a certificated student of the Annexe of Harvard than a graduate of most of the “ open" universities. A recent appointment at Holloway College shows how little solid ground there is for a grievance. I happen to know that, on this occasion, there were several thoroughly well-qualified candidates who had taken the degree of M.A. at London, but these were all passed over in favour of candidates who had taken the Cambridge course alone, and this, too, at a college which professedly prepares for the University of London !
* « To what extent students, who might otherwise have been drawn to Cambridgo by the many advantages of the place, are led to prefor another university by the attraction of a degree, it would be impossible to say." (The italics are mine.)
The Committee, however, go on to say that "so strongly is this (disadvantage) felt that successful candidates in Tripos examinations are induced to present themselves also for the degree examinations of the University of London, in order to obtain an academical position, which at Cambridge is not as yet within their reach." I have endeavoured to discover the foundations for this statement by examining the register of the University of London, which contains an account of the course of every member of the University up to date, and comparing it with the last reports of Newnham and Girton Colleges.* The total number of students who have been admitted to the Cambridge examinations from the
* Register of the University of London, 1886 ; Newnham College Report, 1886; Girton College Report, 1887.
beginning up to 1886 is 258. Of these thirteen only are graduates of London. Out of these thirteen, four passed through the Cambridge course before the University Examinations were formally opened to women, and two others took degrees in medicine-a study not included in the women's curriculum at Cambridge. There remain seven; of these two had already taken the major part of the London course before they came up to Cambridge, four were actually full graduates of London before they did so, and there remains one solitary instance to support the theory of the Committee. But it may be urged that account should be taken of all those who have matriculated at London since their Cambridge
This will give the Committee one more; besides which I will throw them in another who matriculated at London while still at Cambridge, but who has apparently abandoned the London
On the other hand I must take credit for at least two graduates of London (not included in the above) who had come to Cambridge after taking the full London B.A. These are the facts, and I leave the reader to determine whether they will bear the weight of the theory which the Committee seek to impose upon
In the next paragraph of their circular the Committee appeal to the example of three “universities” in admitting students “ without distinction of sex.” These three are the University of London, the Victoria University, and the Royal University of Ireland. These bodies, however, differ so completely in their character from the University of Cambridge that a comparison is only misleading. In the first place they require no residence, and they do no teaching ;* in fact, they are little more than machines for conducting examinations and granting degrees. In the second place, the powers of the university are not vested in the graduates, but in bodies in whose appointment the graduates have either no share or only a very small one, and over whose proceedings they have no right of control whatsoever ; whereas in Cambridge, residence and university teaching are of the essence of the place, and the sovereign power is vested in the Senate, of which all graduates can become members in due course. The fact that about 140 women have graduated at London, and twenty-sevent in the Royal University of Ireland, and that nineteen have matriculated at
* It is shaps hardly necessary to point out that I am speaking entirely of the “ universities," as the constituent colleges, such as Owen's College, Manchester, do not enter into the question.
† " Including,” it is said in the circular, “ H.R.H the Princess of Wales, on whom the degree of D.Mus. honoris causa was conferred in 1885.” This reads like an argument from the photographers' shops. I have indeed heard it rumoured that some head mistresses desire the degree to be granted that their assistant mistresses may teach in cap and gown. But this surely is “ an invention of the enemy."