Report on the Faculty of Arts, Regarding the Teaching of Female Students

Author(s): Ramsay, George Gilbert


University of Glasgow
November 11, 1895.
University of Glasgow
(To be considered at next Meeting of Senate.)
THE FACULTY have met twice to consider the remit of Senate of
June 6, 1895, to the following effect:
"The Senate referred to the Faculty of Arts to consider and
report upon the following representation by the General Council
transmitted to the University Court, viz.: That the Council represent
to the University Court that it is now desirable that women who
intend to graduate should be permitted to join in the ordinary classes
of the University."

After full consideration, it was resolved to report as follows:
"The Faculty of Arts having considered the remit of Senate
of June 6, are unanimously in favour of the admission of women
to the ordinary graduation classes, provided that there is no special
difficulty in the way of their admission to any particular class."

The Faculty have carefully considered the whole question involved
in the above remit as it now stands, in the light of recent experience
both here and elsewhere, and they have come to the general
conclusion that so far as the Faculty of Arts is concerned, the interests
of women students, and of the University as a whole, will best be
served by permitting women, in most subjects, to attend the same
graduation classes as men students, and that any objections to such
an arrangement which may fairly be entertained are more than
outweighed by the corresponding advantages.

Such an opinion would no have been held so clearly by members
of the Faculty - certainly not unanimously - some years ago. Before
the system had been tried, various difficulties suggested themselves.
That both men and women students would feel embarrassment in
joint classes, - that the treatment of certain subjects might suffer, -
that difficulties of various kinds in the order and management of classes
might arise, - such things were naturally feared: but the experience
of other Universities, and of our own - in which women have been
admitted to the Honour classes, and to some of the ordinary classes -
has practically allayed these doubts. It has been found that after
the first novelty of the situation was over, in the Honours and other
classes, men and women students could be taught together in a
perfectly natural way, without embarrassment or difficulty, and that
if any difference at all has been brought about by the introduction of
women into the classes, it has been to the benefit of both kinds of

If then the feared objections fall to the ground as more imaginary
than real, the advantages of joint teaching, wherever possible, are
obvious. In the first place, it is a positive wrong to a subject
that a Professor should be forced to deliver over again the identically
same lecture, or the same instruction, twice in one day. It is a
mere waste, and a useless waste, of force. Such repetition takes
life and interest alike out of the man and of his subject; it wastes
not time only, but also part of that freshness which is essential to
a Professor if he is to do his work well.

And the loss to the woman student is not less great. If she
is taught solely or mainly by an assistant, she is not getting the same
teaching as the men. If she is taught by the Professor, she loses
the zest of large and free competition, all the life and enthusiasm
which affect both taught and teacher in a large University class,
and in which the best inspiration of University teaching is to be
found. It is only by being taught under the same conditions as
men, as members of the same class, that women students can
receive the same University education as the men.

Nevertheless, the Faculty recognise that the circumstances of all
classes are not the same, and they are of the opinion that each case should
be considered on its own merits. As regards the preparatory classes
in Greek, Latin, and Mathematics - those outside the Arts curriculum
- there seems good reason why separation might be maintained in
these. Where the classes are sufficiently large already, and likely
to be largely attended by women - as in the case of English Literature
- separate classes may be a matter of necessiry. If, again, a
Professor has a strong objection to mixed classes, and finds himself
cramped in his treatment of his subject by the presence of women,
due weight should be attached to such objections; but where the
classes are not too large, and the probable number of women students
is small; where the Professor is willing, or even anxious, to have
but one class; where the subject is such that interest in it is quickened
by the contact with numbers - in such cases, the Faculty are of
opinion that women may be allowed to attend the ordinary curriculum
class on the same condition as men. Should any difficulty
arise in any particular case, separate classes can again be resorted
to; but the experience already obtained in the Education class, in
the Moral Philosophy class last session, in the Political Economy
and History classes, as well as in various Honour Classes, warrants
the expectation that such difficulties are not likely to occur.

Without therefore insisting that all classes and all subjects should
necessarily be treated in the same way, and recognising that there
may be advantages in proceeding tentatively in a matter of this kind,
the Faculty would recommend that separate classes be discontinued
in those subjects to which the conditions above stated obviously

G. G. RAMSAY, Dean of the Faculty of Arts. November 11, 1895.


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Report on the Faculty of Arts, Regarding the Teaching of Female Students

Document Information

Document ID 542
Title Report on the Faculty of Arts, Regarding the Teaching of Female Students
Year group 1850-1900
Genre Administrative prose
Year of publication 1895
Place of publication Glasgow, Scotland
Wordcount 951

Author information: Ramsay, George Gilbert

Author ID 160
Forenames George Gilbert
Surname Ramsay
Gender Male
Year of birth 1839
Place of birth Fontainebleau, France
Occupation Academic
Education University
Locations where resident France, Oxford, Glasgow
Other languages spoken Latin, Greek