Tag Archives: Higher Education

100. Brains for Industry: Dr Richardson’s Campaign for Technological Universities

In 1943, Dr Harry Richardson, Principal of the Bradford Technical College, sensed an opportunity.  Since his appointment as Principal in 1920, Dr Richardson had persisted with the ongoing quest for university status for the College (see Object 49).  However, by 1930, complete discouragement meant he had put the matter aside to await fresh developments.

Dr Harry Richardson with students at Bradford Technical College, from Frank Hill's Lecture on “Careers in the Wool Industry” 1955 (Univ/HIL)

Dr Harry Richardson with students at Bradford Technical College, from Frank Hill’s Lecture on “Careers in the Wool Industry” 1955 (Univ/HIL)

In 1943, the British government was thinking about plans for improving society once the Second World War was over.  Education was key.  The progress of the War had highlighted the need for “brains for industry”: a skilled and well educated workforce who could create and manage new technologies.  This could not be supplied by the existing ramshackle educational system, which was radically overhauled in the resulting legislation, the Education Act of 1944.

Technical education was of particular concern.  Colleges (like Bradford’s) had grown up to train workers in local industries but there was no central planning to enable the country to develop university level technological “brains”.  In April 1944, the Education Minister (R.A. Butler) appointed a Special Committee, chaired by Lord Eustace Percy, “to consider the needs of higher technological education in England and Wales”.

Bradford Technical College Engineer Cadet Course, 10 months, RAF, first group, c1942 (BTC 8/3)

Bradford Technical College Engineer Cadet Course, 10 months, RAF, first group, c1942 (BTC 8/3)  This illustrates how the College was supporting the war effort by providing training.

Harry Richardson was not just concerned with enhancing Bradford’s status.  He understood the growing gap between the needs of industry and what technical colleges could offer while in local authority control.  He argued the best way to improve technical education was for some such colleges to become university colleges, allowing them to specialise, develop their own curricula and form better links with industry.

Cover of correspondence file of Dr Richardson, Bradford Technical College (BTC 1/107).

Cover of correspondence file of Dr Richardson, Bradford Technical College (BTC 1/107).

Special Collections holds Dr Richardson’s files of correspondence and press cuttings documenting his campaigning activity from 1943: writing memoranda and letters to newspapers and contacting key people (the Privy Council, the Ministry, the University Grants Committee, Percy Committee members, such as Dr Lowery of the South-West Essex Technical College).  Crucially, he also nurtured support for his ideas among Bradford businessmen, councillors and the local newspapers.

Letter from Hopkinson of the Bradford Dyers' Association, 1 October 1943, praising Richardson's recent letter to The Times newspaper and agreeing with the need for the country to invest in technological education (BTC 1/107)

Letter from Hopkinson of the Bradford Dyers’ Association, 1 October 1943, praising Richardson’s recent letter to The Times newspaper and agreeing with the need for the country to invest in technological education (BTC 1/107)

The Percy Committee published its report, addressed to the new Minister of Education (Ellen Wilkinson), in 1945.  Among its recommendations, the report called for the setting up of a limited number of technical colleges “in which there should be developed technological courses of a standard comparable with that of University degree courses”.

Ten years later, this proposal became reality: in 1956 following the publication of the White Paper on technical education, a small number of technical colleges which would “concentrate entirely on advanced studies” were designated.  Bradford was one of these eight Colleges of Advanced Technology (CATs).

Percy had argued that advanced colleges would be more adaptable to industry needs if they were not set up as universities.  In practice this caused problems for the CATs: they were universities in all other ways but lacked the power, autonomy and funding that the new “plateglass” universities had from the outset.  The Robbins Committee addressed this concern, reporting in 1963 that the CATs should become “technological universities”; Bradford received its Charter in 1966.

Retirement presentation to Principal Richardson, 1957, of a solid silver reproduction George I coffee service and salver.  Principal Richardson is the central figure (BTC 8/3)

Retirement presentation to Principal Richardson, 1957, of a solid silver reproduction George I coffee service and salver. Richardson is the central figure (BTC 8/3),

Richardson retired shortly after the CATs were announced and died four months before the University came into being.  He had played a vital role in these developments.  He and his colleagues had maintained the high academic standards that were needed for the institution to be recognised as a CAT and his indefatigable lobbying maintained local support and ensured the city’s claim to a University could not be forgotten by those in power.

Sources: “Brains for industry” is a quotation from a Times Higher Education leading article of 10 November 1945 which endorsed Richardson’s call for technical colleges to become university colleges.  McKinlay covers in detail the long and complicated story of Richardson’s campaigns and the development of technological universities.

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65. Universities, Science and the Just Society: Writings of Ted Edwards

This week’s Objects: two lectures and a book by our first Vice-Chancellor Dr E.G. (Ted) Edwards, The Relevant University, Higher Education for Everyone, and Science, Education and Society.  Universities are complex organisations shaped by many people and influences over many years.  The University of Bradford is perhaps unusual in that so much about its story and even its present nature can be traced back to the ideas and enthusiasms of its first Vice Chancellor, expressed in these particular works.

Front cover of Higher education for everyone by Ted Edwards

Front cover of The Relevant University by Ted EdwardsTed Edwards had strong ideas about universities and society.  Known as “Red” Ted for his membership of  the Communist party until the 1950s, and his generally radical views, he argued that, in the atomic age, scientific research could not be objective.  A University should not, could not seek knowledge without also considering the benefits or dangers of that knowledge to society.  Linked to this was his call for “interdisciplinarity”.  Though, as he acknowledged, this was a cumbersome word, Dr Edwards argued that breaking down the artificial silo mentalities of academic disciplines would allow researchers to gain wider understanding, and hence benefit society.  His philosophy was inclusive: he called for higher education to be democratic, open to all, rather than educating elites.  He also considered that student involvement in University government was essential in making the institution relevant to students – and society.

E.G.Edwards, laughing, with the Students' Union Presidents for 1957/58 (J.Butler) and 1977/78 (David Pope) (archive ref X462/ UNI PEGE2)

E.G.Edwards with the Students’ Union Presidents for 1957/58 (J.Butler) and 1977/78 (David Pope) (archive ref X462/ UNI PEGE2)

He was able to put his philosophies into practice at Bradford during the 1960s and 1970s: a new university, in a city with a radical tradition, in an era of rapid technological change and booming higher education in which social and intellectual norms were being questioned.  Witness the wording of the Charter, which added “the application of knowledge to human welfare”.  Ted overcame considerable opposition to include a student place on University council.  With his support, Bradford pioneered interdisciplinary teaching and research which aimed to help people lead better lives and support others in so doing: Interdisciplinary Human Studies, Project Planning for Developing Countries, and Peace Studies.

Front cover of Science, Education and Society by Ted EdwardsAlthough the University did not then teach these subjects, Ted was keen to develop arts on campus, to ensure a rounded and enjoyable experience for students.  He set up the Fellowships in Visual Arts, Music and Theatre, and encouraged the purchase of artworks to enhance the campus.

He took great interest in Yugoslavia, encouraging the creation of research and teaching into the region, and offering practical help to Skopje, twin city of Bradford, after the terrible earthquake in 1963.

Ted Edwards retired in 1978.  He wrote Higher Education for Everyone  and other pieces about the areas that interested him and continued to be active in peace campaigning.  He died in 1996.  His work is continued in the University’s community involvement, its links with industry, its pioneering concern for the environment and in the continuing story of the areas of study he encouraged.

This account is based on a piece written for a 2006 exhibition about Ted Edwards’ legacy: Art and Archives.   Special Collections includes masses of archive material about his work and ideas: his own Archive and those of the University and its predecessor BIT.

49. A University for Bradford? Robert McKinlay’s Histories of the University

This week, two vital books for anyone interested in the University of Bradford’s story: The University of Bradford: origins and development and The University of Bradford: the early years.  Both were written by Robert McKinlay, Vice-Principal of the Bradford Institute of Technology and later Pro-Vice Chancellor of the University.  The books are incredibly useful and authoritative sources, as McKinlay combined huge experience and knowledge and scrupulous archival research.

The University of Bradford: origins and development, by Robert McKinlay, front cover

The University of Bradford: origins and development, by Robert McKinlay, front cover

Origins covers the period up to 1966, when the University received its Charter; Early years takes us through the 1970s, with an epilogue on the 1980s and early 1990s.  I draw extensively on both in writing about the Objects.  The former is particularly useful on this week’s theme: how Bradford came to have a University (and why it took so long).

Bradford’s University grew out of the 19th century demand for technical education and moral improvement that led to the development of Mechanics’ Institutes and colleges.  However, although we can trace the University’s history back to 1882 (founding of the Technical School) and even 1832 (the Bradford Mechanics’ Institute), it did not become a Chartered University until 1966.  This contrasts with the experiences of other cities such as Leeds, Manchester, Sheffield and Liverpool where the so-called “red-brick” universities were created in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Why did it take over 100 years for the city to acquire its own University?

The full story is told in over 100 pages in Origins, which is recommended if you wish to know the twists and turns of the whole tale.  Here’s a summary!

Many influential people were committed to the idea of a Bradford University.  Harry Richardson, Principal of the College from 1920 to 1956, put huge effort into this cause, supported by Alderman Revis Barber and the local press.   Alderman Conway, Lord Mayor of Bradford, argued that University status for the College would offer huge benefits to the region, as he explained in this collection of his articles in the Yorkshire Observer.  There were occasional surges of enthusiasm and suggested initiatives involving other universities.

University status for Bradford Technical College by Michael Conway, title page

University status for Bradford Technical College by Michael Conway, title page

However these did not prosper.   The College’s narrow subject base and location in a textile city did not help.  We might point to a lack of local civic support (textile owners perhaps tend to trust instinct and to be hostile to sharing specialist knowledge), a mistrust of technological subjects as the proper study of a university, and the perhaps unfortunate narrowing of the College’s curriculum at exactly the time two Yorkshire universities were founded (Leeds and Sheffield).   Once other universities were established nearby, it would be harder for Bradford to make its case.  McKinlay also suggests that the strategies employed by those in favour were too vague.  Were they calling for an institute of technology or a university?  Was the debate about the naming of the institution or how it was governed?   Different arguments were made by different advocates.  All of which gave opponents “room to manoevre”.

Vice-Chancellor, Chancellor, Pro-Vice Chancellor and Deputy Vice-Chancellor : E.G. Edwards, Harold Wilson, Charles Morris and R.A. McKinlay. Late 1960s.

Vice-Chancellor, Chancellor, Pro-Vice Chancellor and Deputy Vice-Chancellor : E.G. Edwards, Harold Wilson, Charles Morris and R.A. McKinlay. Late 1960s.

The breakthrough came in 1956 with the White Paper on Technical Education, which aimed to increase graduate numbers in technological subjects by founding Colleges of Advanced Technology.  Bradford was to be one of these, a fitting retirement gift for Harry Richardson who had worked so hard for a university.  This began the process of taking the organisation out of local government control and paved the way for the transformation into a University which would run its own affairs.   Between the two books, we have the whole story in digested form: we are very grateful to Robert McKinlay for putting them together.

1. Making Knowledge Work: The Charter

Detail from the Royal Charter

The first object in this series is the Royal Charter of the University of Bradford.  The Charter was signed in October 1966, transforming the Bradford Institute of Technology into the University of Bradford.

University's Grant of Arms

University’s Grant of Arms

The Charter brought the parent organisation of Special Collections into being.  For that reason alone, it is one of our most important documents.  However, it is the first of the 100 for another reason.

Clause no. 2 of the Charter, the “objects clause”, contains standard wording for University charters: “The object of the University shall be the advancement of learning and knowledge”.  Ted Edwards, Principal of the BIT and then the first Vice Chancellor of the University, decided that this was not enough.   He added an extra clause, “and the application of knowledge to human welfare”.

Ted Edwards with the Charter

Ted Edwards with the Charter

Ted Edwards believed that the University could help solve the problems facing society: “the Bomb and the hungry world”.  The clause made this commitment part of the core mission of the University.  Thanks to this commitment, the  original scientific and technological studies of the Institute were supplemented by innovative departments dealing with these problems: The School of Peace Studies, and the Project Planning Centre for Development Studies.  Both continue to thrive.  The University still works to apply knowledge to problems, as proclaimed in the strapline to the corporate identity: “Making knowledge work”.  The Ecoversity project takes Dr Edwards’ concerns into the 21st century in tackling the new threat of climate change.

Ted Edwards also created the University’s distinctive arts commitment, and championed students.  You can find out more about him and the University’s long history (traceable back to 1832 and embedded in Bradford’s industrial past) on the relevant Archive webpages.

Detail from the Grant of Arms

Detail from the Grant of Arms

The Charter and Grant of Arms are now (October 2011) back in their usual home in the Vice-Chancellor’s Office, after spending some time in the J.B. Priestley Library for safekeeping during building work.