In a previous article we dealt with the subject of "Our Own Schools," and it is our intention in the present to speak of those more advanced institutions whose special care is, to use the phrase of the day, "the higher education of women." There is no question as to the importance of the subject. Addison, in one of his essays, pictures the human soul as a block of marble in a quarry which shows none of its inherent beauties till the polisher sets to work and brings out the colours, makes the surface shine, and discovers every ornamental spot and vein that runs through it. So, he says, it is with education: "when it works upon a noble mind, it draws out to vice every latent virtue and perfection, which without such help are never able to make their appearance."
Cambridge will be our starting point. The Cambridge institution which comes first to mind in connection with woman's education is Girton College. This college dates its origin from the year 1869, when it was opened at Hitchin. It was incorporated in 1872, removed to the parish of Girton, near Cambridge, in 1873, and had its accommodation considerably enlarged three years ago.
Candidates for admission to Girton College must pass an entrance examination, and furnish satisfactory certificates of character. Except in special cases students are not received under eighteen years of age. Entrance examinations are held in London in March and June, the fee being one pound. The subjects include the principles and practice of arithmetic, English grammar, physical and political geography, English history, and Scripture history - not required, however, in the case of conscientious objections - and any two of several optional subjects, of which one must be a language.
The instruction given by the college consists of divinity; modern languages - English, French and German; classics; mathematics (pure and mixed); moral science, natural science, history, and vocal music. Students are at liberty to select a course of study but no student may take more than a maximum or less than a minimum number of subjects.
Degree certificates are conferred by Girton College on such students as are proved by examination to have arrived at a fixed standard of proficiency. The course for an ordinary degree certificate occupies about three years, half of each year being spent in college; for honours the time allowed is somewhat longer. A certificate called a college certificate is conferred on any student who passes, to the satisfaction of the college, examinations similar in subjects and standard to those qualifying for B.A. of the University of Cambridge. The following deviations, however, are permitted: French and English, or German and English, may be substituted for Latin or Greek, and English, French, and German for both Latin and Greek. The theological part of the examination may also be omitted, of objected to.
The charge for board, lodging and instruction at Girton College amounts to £35 per term. This covers the whole of the college expenses.
Girton College being a model institution of its kind, has received substantial support from many of the leading friends of progress. Several scholarships have been founded, and, to speak only of what is recent, considerable grants have been made by some of the wealthy companies of the city of London to the building fund of the college. The assistance given in this way has been specially opportune, as, in consequence of the rapid increase in the number of students, it became necessary to add to the building, and a debt was thus incurred, of which about £5,000, we believe, still remains to be paid off.
The number of students at present attending Girton College is over forty. One of them, our readers will most likely recollect, attracted considerable attention early this year by passing an examination, which but for her sex would have placed her in the position of Eighth Wrangler.
Newnham Hall is another Cambridge institution which owes its origin to the increased interest taken in the higher education of women. It was founded in 1875 to receive students coming from a distance to attend lectures, and the demands on its accommodation have been such that a sister establishment, under the name of Norwich House, was opened in the October of 1877, for the reception of sixteen students. The students at Newnham Hall number thirty-three, and the Principal has at present applications from far more than she can admit.
To enter Newnham Hall the student must first of all furnish the Principal with satisfactory reference. Then, unless under special circumstances, she must, if she means to qualify for the Cambridge Higher Local Examination, pass in English history, English literature, and arithmetic before coming into residence. Those who have taken honours in the Cambridge Senior Local Examinations are exempt from this rule. No student must be under seventeen years of age.
The charge for board and lodging is twenty guineas for each term of eight weeks. The fees for instruction vary slightly according to the line of study, but they will, in most cases, be covered by four and a half guineas a term.
In connection with Newnham Hall there are several entrance exhibitions of five guineas a term, awarded to students who require assistance and whose ability is unmistakeable. These exhibitions are tenable with scholarships, and the scholarships to be competed for are becoming every year of greater importance. A limited number of fifteen guineas a year are awarded to students whose means are small and who have attained some intellectual distinction. Not to speak of others, three scholarships of fifty pounds a year for two years were given at the Higher Local Examination in June of this year by the Cambridge Association for Promoting the Higher Education of Women.
The lectures delivered at Cambridge under the auspices of the association we have just named embrace all the subjects included in the Cambridge Higher Local Examination, combined with more advanced teaching in the different subjects of the University course for students who have passed this examination. They are open to women not under seventeen years of age, who must reside in some house approved of by the committee of the association.
There are over thirty professors whose lectures at Cambridge are open to women, indeed women may derive benefit from almost the entire teaching staff of the University. The subjects of these lectures are: astronomy, botany, archaeology, law, moral philosophy, pure mathematics, civil law, fine art, Sanskrit, natural experimental philosophy, political economy, international law, geology, anatomy, Hebrew, Greek, medicine, chemistry, Latin, mineralogoy, Arabic, modern history, Anglo-Saxon, mechanism, applied mechanics, and divinity.
Oxford, in 1879, followed the example so nobly set by Cambridge, and Lady Margaret Hall was opened for the benefit of women desirous of improving themselves by study. Its special object is to afford such students the protection and training of an academical house on the principles of the Church of England, but ample provision is made for the liberty of members of other religious bodies.
Those desirous of admission to Margaret Hall must of course forward unexceptionable references to the Principal, and students coming from any other place of education must bring a letter of recommendation from its authorities. Students will not be allowed to reside for less than an academical year without special leave.
Board and lodging at this Hall costs £25 a term, or £75 a year, exclusive of charges which are strictly personal. The authorities hope that, as the Hall grows, it will be found possible to reduce this amount. Sisters or other ladies sharing the same room are allowed a reduction, and provision is made in certain cases, by exhibitions or otherwise for students whose resources are limited. The fees for instruction amount to about £15 a year.
Somerville Hall at Oxford was also opened in 1879. It is intended for the reception of students who have left home to attend the lectures of the Oxford Association for Promoting the Higher Education of Women. Whatever the religious denomination to which its inmates belong they are all placed on the same footing. The life of the students is modelled on that of an English family. Prayers are read daily, and on Sundays students are expected, as a rule, to attend some place of worship. The students must be at least seventeen years old.
There are four exhibitions of twenty-five pounds each tenable at this Hall by students who are preparing to become teachers. Students have also a chance of winning the "Mary Somerville" scholarship of thirty pounds a year for three years for mathematics This scholarship is awarded after examination by a Committee of the Association for Promoting the Higher Education of Women in Oxford.
Turning our attention now to the Metropolis, we find much to speak about. First of all, there is Queen's College, in Harley-street, an institution founded in 1848 and incorporated by Royal Charter in 1853. It is intended for the general education of ladies and for granting certificates of knowledge.
There is a useful four years' course at Queen's College, to which girls are admitted at the age of fourteen. The higher course is for students above eighteen. It prepares for the first B.A. examination of the University of London, and includes such subjects as church history, botany, English language, French literature, Greek, Latin, mathematics, physiology, Roman history, English history, German, harmony, chemistry, geology.
The fees are one guinea for each course of ten lectures; four guineas for the lectures of a whole term. The first lecture of each course is free, and five shillings is charged for any subsequent single lecture.
Two scholarships of thirty guineas each for two years are open to competition, at the beginning of the Michaelmas term, to students preparing for the B.A. examination. Candidates must be at least eighteen years of age.
Certificates of associateship, which may prove of considerable use in making one's way in the world, are given to scholars of not less than six years' standing, on their proving their proficiency in the subjects studied by them, and paying a fee of one guinea. Certificates of proficiency in any single subject are granted to ladies, whether connected with the College or not, on their fulfilling certain conditions and passing the required examination.
Trinity College, London, has recently opened its examination in arts and music to women. Special classes for ladies at cheap rates are conducted by qualified professors, and the examinations are open to candidates who have been educated there or elsewhere.
At Bedford College in York-place, Portman-square, young women may also pursue their studies with advantage. The work of the classes here prepares for matriculation and graduation at the University of London. The fees for regular students who pursue a systematic course of study, are eight guineas a term; for occasional students, who may select any number of separate classes, the charge is two guineas a term for one class meeting twice a week, and one guinea and a half for any additional class after the first.
Regular students not under eighteen years of age, who have diligently attended classes for at least three sessions, and have passed with credit the examinations of those classes, are entitled to the diploma of "Associate of Bedford College."
The ladies' division of the Crystal Palace School of Art, Science and Engineering now numbers about five hundred pupils. It was established about twenty years ago, with the idea of utilising the valuable courts and collections of the Crystal Palace for instruction in art. The system of tuition is in some subjects in the style of private tutorial instruction by the best masters, but other subjects are taught on the University method, in accordance with the regulations of the Syndicate of the University of Cambridge, by whom some lectures and classes are conducted. The number of students admitted into any class is strictly limited.
The City of London College for Ladies has a senior departments, in which there are classes for ladies who wish to study special subjects and for pupils wishing to prepare for the Cambridge, Oxford, and other higher examinations for women, including those of London and St. Andrew's Universities. We must not omit also to notice that the highest division of the North London Collegiate School for Girls takes rank as a college for women.
At the University College, London, classes in all subjects are open to both men and women, who are taught in some classes together and in others separately. Particulars as to these classes may be obtained from the College Calendar. This well-known institution was founded in 1826, and opened two years later as "The University of London." A change, however, was made in 1836, when it received a charter as University College. The Royal Charter of 1856 was annulled and the college was re-incorporated with additional powers in 1869.
For advancing the education of women of limited means and little leisure several institutions have been established in London and other large towns. The Brompton Evening College for Women is one of these. This college was founded by the Women's Educational Union to supply women employed during the day with systematic teaching by evening classes, and to provide a comfortable resort and pleasant occupation for leisure hours. There are classes in various subjects, both elementary and advanced.
Another institution of the same class is the College for Working Women in Fitzroy-square. An endeavour is made here, by systematic teaching, to supply women occupied during the day with higher education than has generally been within their reach, and also to promote mutual help and fellowship between teachers and students and all members of the college. Periodical examinations are held, and at these students may obtain certificates of the Society of Arts free of expense.
The College for Men and Women, in Queen-square, Bloomsbury, was founded in 1863, with much the same object as the two just mentioned. The number of students at present is about three hundred and fifty. The fees for each course are from one shilling to four shillings a term. To all establishments of this class one cannot but wish success. Young ladies who have little else to do than attend classes and study their lessons can hardly realise the enthusiasm that must exist before one can throw one's heart into learning after a hard day's work.
Before we leave speaking of education in London we must devote a word or two to London University. This is not an institute for teaching, nor a body of teachers and scholars, but a body of persons empowered to examine candidates and confer degrees. It was created under a Royal Charter in 1836, at the same time that the University of London, as we have already mentioned, received its charter and changed its name to University College. A totally new charter was granted in 1863.
Women are now admitted to all degrees at London University without exception. This is under a supplemental charter, granted on the 14th of May, 1878.
The degrees obtainable are those of Bachelor and Master of Arts, Bachelor and Doctor of Medicine, Bachelor and Doctor of Laws, Bachelor and Doctor of Science, Bachelor and Master of Surgery, Bachelor and Doctor of Music, and Doctor of Literature. For information as to the examinations for these degrees, and also the exhibitions and scholarships to be competed for in connection with the University of London, we must refer the reader to the University Calendar, our own space not being equal to the occasion.
Some provision is made in Bristol for the higher education of women in the University College. This college is intended to supply for persons of either sex above the ordinary school age the means of continuing their studies in science, languages, history, and literature. The fees for day lectures are generally five guineas for each course, for three terms, and four guineas for two consecutive terms. Those for evening lectures are seven shillings for one term, half-a-guinea for two terms, and fifteen shillings for three terms. There are several college scholarships open to women as well as men, and the Clifton Association for Promoting the Higher Education of Women offers four scholarships for women, each forth fifteen pounds, and tenable for one year.
At the Liverpool Institute there are classes for women specially designed for such as wish to work their way in the world. No students are received under sixteen. The fees for each class are ten shillings a term.
Dublin possesses a useful institution in the shape of Alexandra College, established in 1866, to the classes of which girls above fifteen years of age are admitted. We meet here with the novelty of correspondence classes, the students belonging to which reside at a distance and are supplied with the regular weekly work of any class and with examination papers. The themes and exercises are corrected and the examination papers marked by the regular professors on payment of the college fees.
Certificates of general proficiency are granted at Alexandra College to such students as pass a satisfactory examination in English language and literature, and in at least four other subjects, literary or scientific, selected by themselves. Special certificates are also granted in separate subjects to pupils who have studied the subjects in which they desire to be examined for six terms, or for any less number of terms within which a course of lectures is completed.
Queen's College, in Molesworth-street, Dublin, is also devoted to the general education of women. There is a finishing course here, recommended to governesses, embracing English language and literature, English composition, ancient and modern history, geography, mathematics, drawing and painting, natural science, one modern language, Latin, Greek, pianoforte, and theory of music, choral singing, elocution, political economy, logic, and the art of teaching.
In Belfast, at the Methodist College, there are classes for lady students. The rate of fees may be judged by the quotation of one guinea a term for one subject of two hours a week. Admission to all the classes is four guineas and a half per term. At the end of year ladies who have attended a class in any subject regularly, and who pass the final examination satisfactorily, receive a certificate. Special certificates of general proficiency are given to any student who, after having regularly attended classes for two years, passes a satisfactory examination in no fewer than five subjects, two of which must be English and French.
And so ends this paper. We have mentioned briefly the leading colleges in the country, for women, and we shall not detain the reader by enlarging on the advantages to be gained by attending them. It will be enough if we all lay to heart this sage advice: "Above all things, study. Whether for the sake of learning, or for any other reason, study. For, whatever the motives that impel you at first, you will soon love study for its own sake."