This article is more than 1 year old

Higher education postcard: Newman University

This week’s card from Hugh Jones’s postbag shows us a memorial to one of higher education’s few canonised saints
This article is more than 1 year old

Hugh Jones is a freelance HE consultant. You’ll find a daily #HigherEducationPostcard if you follow him on Twitter.

Greetings from Birmingham!

In 1965, the Archbishop of the Catholic Diocese of Birmingham, George Dwyer, donated land to establish a college to train teachers. A principal and vice principal were appointed, and in 1968 Newman College of Higher Education welcomed its first intake of 182 students.

The college was named for Cardinal John Henry Newman, a nineteenth century theologian and public intellectual. I won’t be able to do real justice to his life and works in these short paragraphs – the context was a legal system within which Catholics continued to be discriminated against, a move from Anglicanism to Catholicism, and a controversial public life including losing a libel trial. He had a strong connection to Birmingham. Newman was canonised by the Catholic Church in 2019.

Within higher education, he is notable for The Idea of a University, a volume published after he had stood down as rector of what became University College Dublin. This was and is an influential text in discourses about the aims and purposes of higher education, although truth be told it is not hard to find a more readable book.

Anyway, back to Newman College. Its degrees were initially validated by the University of Birmingham, and then in 1998 Coventry University took over as validator. University of Leicester picked up the baton from 2003 until 2008, when Newman College of Higher Education was given degree awarding powers and became Newman University College. And in 2013 university status was achieved.

The postcard shows St Mary’s Chapel at the university, and was sent by Derek to friends in Dundee:

Having a great time at Newman. Weather has been great too. There are very nice grounds to the college, yesterday we had photos taken outside which you will see in time.

Leave a Reply