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History of Higher Education in England and France


Korean Minjok Leadership Academy
International Program
Kim, Young Yoon
Term Paper, AP European History Class, July 2008



Table of Contents
I. Introduction
II. England
II.1 Higher Education in the Middle Ages
II.2 During and after the English Reformation
II.3 Enter Women
III. France
III.1 Higher Education in the Middle Ages
III.2 During the Renaissance and Reformation
III.3 Education in the 17th and 18th Centuries
III.3.1 Female Education
IV. Conclusion
Notes
Bibliography



I. Introduction
            Higher education refers to the education provided by institutions such as universities, colleges, and other various academies that award academic degrees. It is a term used in contrast to secondary or elementary education, which is the instruction of basic knowledge such as simple math or writing.
            Higher education in England and France showed some notable similarities, such as the early development of prominent universities, and the establishment of academies outside the university walls. This paper focuses briefly on the history of higher education in France and England, from the medieval times to the entrance of women. It will point out some of the similarities and differences in the conclusion.

II. England

II.1 Higher Education in the Middle Ages
            The earliest education in England was initiated by monasteries in the 6th century, where students were trained to be clergies. An example of such monasteries is the monastery of Venerable Bede in Northumbria in the 680s. They were, however, elementary education to teach children how to read and give them religious instructions. Two centuries later, Alfred the Great activated secular education in England, which led to the establishment of the University of Oxford in the 12th century; the University of Cambrige was established in the 13th century when some students left Oxford after a dispute with the townspeople. Oxford University was given a boost when the expulsion of foreigners from the University of Paris in 1167, and the first foreign scholar, Emo of Friesland arrived in 1190. Learning from books were still a luxury, and fluency in Latin and Greek was required to receive education in universities. In the 13th century the first colleges were established. The University College was founded in the year 1249 by William Durham, while John de Baliol established a college in 1264 and named it after himself. Various colleges, owning lands and faithful to the church¡¯s teachings, were established such as the Merton College, the Exeter College, the Oriel College, the Queens College, and so on. Independent schools (independent from the church) suchlike Winchester and Eton were also established in the late 14th and early 15th century.
            Higher education still was not free from religious control, for Latin was the main language of instruction and scholars were mostly clerics. The studies of a university student comprised of Latin grammar and literature, and rhetoric including law and dialect or logic. When the student finished his studies he would be awarded the degree of Bachelor of Arts, usually after four to seven years of studying. After achieving the degree the student would then continue on subjects such as arithmetic, geometry, music, and astronomy combined with astrology, followed by Hebrew, and Greek philosophy and history. These seven subjects were taught not because of their usefulness but because they were thought to be suitable for developing intellectual and moral excellence. Throughout the medieval period works of ancient writers like Aristotle were thought to be the final authority, and lectures were a matter of explaining the "facts".

II.2 During and after the English Reformation
            Henry ¥· included schools in the process of concentrating power in the hands of the state, and in 1548 Henry¡¯s son Edward VI passed the Chantries Act, which confiscated all church estates for the use of education. After the Reformation, the church influence over higher education decreased but did not disappear altogether. Some of the old schools were closed down and others were opened in place. Grammar schools, preliminary institutions for education prior to university, were "supervised by variable degree by church and state" instead of belonging to the church. Greek and Hebrew was added to the main Latin curriculum taught in Universities, in order to understand the scriptures better. The Renaissance movement in the 16th century brought subjects such as history, literature, and language into university curricula (1).
            The Renaissance and Scientific Revolution during the 17th century caused the universities to lose their monopoly over professional teaching. Francis Bacon, in the troubled times of religious breakup in 1605, called for the scholars to leave their ivory towers and enter workshops of the Mechanics to uncover the secrets of Mother Nature. The Royal Society of London for the Improvement of Natural Knowledge, simply known as the Royal Society, was dedicated to the free flow of information and knowledge. It too was formed outside the walls of universities. For another half century the experimental sciences were practiced primarily outside the University by gentlemen scholars such as Darwin.

II.3 Enter Women
            Cambridge University in the 18th century and Oxford in the early 19th each installed public examinations as part of the entrance process. This forced to the two universities to improve the quality of their teaching and as a result the universities recovered their prestige. English universities had continued with its corrupt and antiquate style of teaching until this period, but as industrialization made mass education more and more popular, the universities had to re-check their religious exclusiveness and restricted curriculum. Universities in London and Durham were founded, and they had significantly broader curricula. From the 1850s Oxford and Cambridge began to offer a broader range of subjects, and further changes in the 1870s and 80s led universities to modern university status.
            Women were not allowed access to higher education until in the middle of the nineteenth century. On October 16 1869, Girton College, the first residential university college for women was established by Emily Davies and Barbara Bodichon. It was a constituent of Cambridge University, and failed to be recognized by university authorities. In 1910 there were almost a thousand women students at Oxford and Cambridge; however, they needed permission to attend lectures and were not allowed to take degrees.

III. France

III.1 Higher Education in the Middle Ages
            Charlemagne was the first ruler to recognize the value of education, and brought the cleric and educator Alcuin of York to establish a palace school in Aachen. The doctrines Scholasticism were popularly taught throughout Europe during the 11th century, and one of the great Scholastic teachers was the French theologian Peter Abelard. It was the presence of such teachers that made possible the establishment of many prominent universities in France.
            Higher education in France was centered around the University of Paris, one of the first universities in the world. The University of Paris, or La Sorbonne, was established in the second half of the 13th century by Robert de Sorbon, confirmed through a specific foundation act by papal bull. It became the academic model of several other universities in Europe as well, including Oxford University in England. The La Sorbonne was a college for theology students without money. Students were to learn dialects, astronomy, grammar, rhetoric, and math, according to a strict schedule stretching from dawn to sunset. Two more universities, the University of Montpellier and the University of Toulouse, were established during the 13th century. By the end of the 15th century, France had nine universities, all of high quality, located throughout the country.

III.2 During the Renaissance and Reformation
            The Renaissance brought a general increase in the number of universities in Europe, and the spread of education in mathematics and classics. Schools in 16th century France were still largely under the control of the Roman Catholic Church, although this traditional education faced opposition from Protestants and those influenced by humanist principles.

III.3 Education in the 17th and 19th Centuries
            The Roman Church retained control of education, and as the monarchy became more absolute, so did the authority of churches in matters of education. In France, practically all universities were controlled by so-called teaching congregations or societies. The most famous and powerful during the first half of the 17th century was the Society of Jesus. By mid-century the Jesuits had 14,000 pupils under instruction in Paris alone, and their colleges, not including universities, all over the land numbered 612.
            The religious and international conflicts were harmful to education, which suffered much because the kings and religious factions that gained power used the universities for propagating their causes. Teachers not of the approved persuasion would be discarded, regardless of their teaching skills. Moreover, the universities would continue to ignore the new directions of men¡¯s minds. In universities staffed by Jesuit fathers, medieval Scholasticism was fully restored, purged of the excessive formalness that had once degraded it. Universities declined because they were too often deeply involved in religious conflicts, and failed to accommodate any enlargement of the frontiers of knowledge. The University of Paris in particular remained distracted throughout the 17th century by theological dissensions - in at least one instance as a result of the rivalry that ensued after the Jesuits had affected a footing at Clermont College.(2)
            After the Jesuits banned in 1764, Oratorians took their place as teachers. Oratorians formed the most important teaching congregations in France, the B?rullian Oratory, founded in 1611. It was composed of more liberal and rationalist priests, and opened a number of schools and seminaries for young nobles. The Oratorians provided instruction in history, mathematics, natural sciences, and even in dancing and music. They continued to use Latin as the primary language of instruction, but promoted the use of vernacular French in their early years. The ideas of Descartes, faith based on reason, was one of their main educational tendencies
            During the French Revolution, some of the Revolutionaries, especially the Jacobins who had participated in the Reign of Terror, were concerned with education of the state¡¯s ideals. They prohibited religious education in all schools and universities.

III.4 Education of Females
            France was notable for its efforts of female education in the 17the century. For example, Mme de Maintenon had been a pupil of the Ursuline nuns in Paris and then a governess at the court of Louis XIV before she was wedded to the king in 1684. In 1686 at Saint-Cyr near Versailles, she founded a higher school for orphan girls of noble descent.

IV Conclusion
            Both in England and in France, major institutions of higher education were established in the 12th and 13th centuries, and developed to be prominent universities even until today. Before these institutions, education was provided mainly by monasteries, especially in England. In France, the medieval higher education was centered around the University of Paris, one of the first universities in the world.
            During the course of Renaissance and Reformation, church influence in English higher education institutions were decreased significantly, although not altogether eliminated. In France, the religious conflicts of rulers and religious factions hindered education, and the Jesuits established great universities that provided good quality of education, before they were banned and were replaced by Oratories. Universities lost their monopolies to academic groups outside the walls of universities, such as the Royal Society of England and the Academy of Sciences in France. The entrance of women in education occurred earlier in France, in the 17th century, while in England the first women¡¯s college was established in the 19th century.


Notes

(1)      R. Williams in his work The Long Revolution stated otherwise. "The major achievements of the Renaissance, in the vernacular literatures, in geographical discovery, in new painting and music, in the new spirit in philosophy and physical inquiry, in changing attitudes to the individual, had little effect on the standard forms of general education" (Williams 1965)
(2)     


Bibliography

Note : websites quoted below were visited at the end of June 2008.
1.      Article: ¡°Higher Education¡±, from Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Higher_education
2.      Article: ¡°France ? Government and Society ? higher education¡±, from Britannica Online edition, http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/215768/France/41174/Higher-education#tab=active~checked%2Citems~checked&title=France%20%3A%3A%20Higher%20education%20--%20Britannica%20Online%20Encyclopedia
3.      Article: ¡°France¡± ¡°Institutions¡±, from Human Resources for Science and Technology: The European Region, http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/nsf96316/france.htm
4.      ¡°Education in England: a brief history¡±, from Education in England, by Derek Gillard, http://www.dg.dial.pipex.com/history/text01.shtml
5.      ¡°France Education¡±, from International Education Website, http://www.internationaleducationmedia.com/france/
6.      Article: ¡°History of Education¡±, from MSN Encarta, http://encarta.msn.com/encyclopedia_761561415_2/history_of_education.html
7.      ¡°Early education in England¡±, from Kentguy¡¯s Diaries, http://kentguy.wordpress.com/2008/01/16/early-education-in-england/
8.      ¡°Medieval Universities and Higher Learning Education¡±, from Academic Apparel, http://www.academicapparel.com/caps/History-College-Education.html
9.      Article: ¡°Women and University Education¡±, from Spartacus Educational, http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/Wuniversity.htm
10.      The Third Age of University, by Harry Hillman Chartrand, htp://www.culturaleconomics.atfreeweb.com/The%20Third%20Age.pdf

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