Tag Archives: Universities

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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STOP PRESS. 76. Into the Seventies: Prog, Punk and More

By popular request, we’ve taken the List of bands at the University of Bradford Students Union up to 1979 (see Object 76 for the 1960s stories).   I’ll write about this in more detail soon and expect updates on the 1980s and beyond later this summer.  Memories, tickets, posters, and corrections all welcome.

72. This Wonderful Little Tome: the 1983 Alternative Prospectus

Now for a students’-eye view of student life: an Alternative Prospectus produced by the University of Bradford Students’ Union in 1983.  This “wonderful little tome” or “colourful piece of literary gold” supplemented the official undergraduate prospectuses with a light-hearted overview of the reality of student life.  For anyone who studied at any UK university during the 1980s it is a trip down memory lane.

There’s loads of practical advice on 1) surviving in Halls, such as, “If you like consistent heating, a regular water supply and have a desire to use the bog roll at weekends, then you’re looking at the wrong accommodation …”

2) Making the most of what the city, the University and the Students’ Union could offer e.g. Bradford “has something to offer everyone, whether it be a reggae club, a curry at 3 o’clock in the morning, ten pints of Theakston’s Old Peculiar, a touring Theatre Company, professional rugby league, a five mile trek across the moors, or a performance of the Messiah at Christmas!”.

3) What to expect from individual courses e.g. “Firstly, ignore the timetable.  Even the lecturers can’t understand it …”

I’ve only ever seen the one Alternative Prospectus at Bradford (there was something of a trend for them at universities during the 1980s).  However, other Union publications offered the same sort of information to new students, like this UBU Handbook from 1973/74:

and this issue of Scrapie (the Students’ Union magazine) from 2003:

71. Why Study at Bradford? Social Science ’71 and Other Historic University Prospectuses

This week, some of the most useful and visually interesting items in the University Archive:  prospectuses offering essential information for students considering university applications.  Such prospectuses answered key questions about courses:

Prospectus for Undergraduate Social Sciences 1971, University of Bradford (UNI L32)

My favourite – the intriguing cover of this 1971 prospectus features very stylish students (I assume)  in front of an industrial scene (not the University as might be expected).

What qualifications do I need to apply?  What will I learn, and how?  Are there exams? Which careers could I pursue?  Who will teach me?  What will it be like at University?   Prospective students still need to know these things, but the traditional prospectus is now supplemented with masses of online information.

Prospectus for Postgraduate Traffic Engineering and Planning 1969, University of Bradford (UNI L11)

Prospectus for Postgraduate Traffic Engineering and Planning 1969.

The designs of the 1960s and early 1970s prospectuses mostly reflect the way the University  saw itself: interdisciplinary, modern, technological, socially aware.

Prospectus for Undergraduate Environmental Science 1972, University of Bradford (UNI L36)

Prospectus for Undergraduate Environmental Science 1972

Prospectus for Undergraduate Applied Social Sciences 1971, University of Bradford (UNI L24)

Prospectus for Undergraduate Applied Social Sciences 1971.

Later 1970s designs were simple, often based on the University’s coat of arms.

Prospectus for MA in Philosophy and Human Studies 1979, University of Bradford (UNI L49)

Prospectus for MA in Philosophy and Human Studies 1979.

Later designs tended to use photographs (I suspect technological advances in printing made this easier and cheaper), often combining images of students with powerful stock photography.

Prospectus for Undergraduate EI &MC, and Media Technology and Production 1995, University of Bradford (UNI L77)

Prospectus for Undergraduate EI & MC, and Media Technology and Production 1995

Special Collections people still find the historic prospectuses useful as a quick and accurate source of historic information about the University e.g. for lists of staff. They also contain great photographs of student life, University buildings etc.   We’ll be looking at student perspectives later.

Prospectus for Undergraduate Optometry 2003, University of Bradford (UNI L121)

Eye-catching prospectus for Undergraduate Optometry 2003.

If you remember being influenced to come to Bradford (or not!) by these publications, or maybe even were involved in writing or designing them, do let us know!

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.

46. Digital Objects are Special too: Our 40th Birthday Cake

University of Bradford 40th birthday cake, October 2006

University of Bradford 40th birthday cake, October 2006.

2006 was the University of Bradford’s 40th birthday, celebrated at events over the summer and autumn, notably a party in Richmond Atrium in October and the Big Bradford Weekend in June.  Special Collections staff shared the wealth of history in the University Archive, creating exhibitions such as Give Invention Light, featured below.  I was particularly reminded of the 40th because we are now planning some really special things for the 50th anniversary: in 2016!

University of Bradford 40th birthday balloons, Atrium, October 2006

University of Bradford 40th birthday balloons, Atrium, October 2006

These photographs also illustrate something people don’t realise about archives.    Archives are not just books and documents made of paper or parchment.  Communication is now dominated by digital: to be useful in the future, archive collecting needs to reflect this.  Digital objects may be new versions of existing physical objects, as are most of the other images in this exhibition.  They may come to us on CDs, DVDs, memory sticks, floppy disks (remember those?), hard drives etc etc.   Many now, like the photographs in this story, are “born-digital” and stay that way.  And think of how much now happens in “the cloud”: on email, facebook, twitter and other social media, not to mention this blog.

Give Invention Light, exhibition of University history shown in Atrium October 2006

Give Invention Light, exhibition of University history shown in Atrium October 2006

While digital objects are much easier to copy and share and much lighter on physical space, there are many challenges in looking after them properly.  Above all, decisions need to be taken earlier in their lives: to name them and store them in ways that make them useful in the future.  Paper materials can usually sit happily for 20 years or more before making their way to an archive: unless very unlucky with poor conditions, they will still be readable.  20-year old digital files finding their way to an archive for the first time will be much more challenging!  These images are only six years old, but are only useful now because we took action to keep them as soon as they were taken.

Alumni and friends enjoying show at Big Bradford Weekend, June 2006

Alumni and friends enjoying show at Big Bradford Weekend, June 2006

I wonder how we will record the 50th anniversary?  Or the 100th?

Find out more about digital archives and get good advice from this blog post by our colleagues at West Yorkshire Archives Service: Computer discs aren’t archives are they?   Those who want something a little more technical, check out the JISC beginners’ guide to digital preservation or Don’t Panic! from the West Yorkshire Archives Service.