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The People's University


AGIGANTIC and imposing educational scheme is about to be launched, which, whether it proves feasible or not, must attract the attention and enlist the sympathy of all well-wishers to the intellectual development and material welfare of the country. This is no less an idea than the establishment, of a National Working Men's University, which is to be founded with special reference to instruction in those subjects which have a direct bearing on the arts and manufactures. That our workmen are, as a rule, altogether ignorant of the scientific principles upon which the processes they ought to guide and govern are dependent, and that England in this respect stands in a much inferior position to continental nations, is now a well-recognised fact. The result of this lamentable ignorance is stated by certain authorities to be severely felt in those of our trades and manufactures in which we have to compete with other nations; and although this conclusion has been denied by many, yet concerning the necessity for scientific education amongst our artisans there has never been a difference of opinion. The question then arises, How are we to bring to our rising artisans on an extended and national scale the knowledge of scientific principles which they so much need, and for I which the best of their class show so much desire and even aptitude? One solution to this problem is being attempted by the scheme of a National University for Industrial and Technical Training. The proposal is to establish a metropolitan institution in which complete and thorough instruction in all those branches of knowledge which are of importance to our manufacturing industry shall be given. It is proposed (1) to build ample lecture-rooms, laboratories, art (as well as scientific) museums on the most extended scale; (2) to create professorships both of the pure sciences and of such more technical subjects as can be systematically treated, and we will also hope chairs of at least such literary subjects as the modern languages; and (3) to found scholarships by which artisans may be enabled to live during the years of their studentship. This central university is to be connected with other similar institutions scattered over the country in the foci of the industrial pursuits, each carrying out in its locality the same function which the central one is to. perform perhaps on a somewhat higher scale for the metropolis and the country in general.


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ROSCOE, H. The People's University . Nature 4, 41 (1871).

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