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Higher Education Postcard: University of Liverpool

Hugh Jones’ postbag this week shares a card with tales of fundraising and trades unions
This article is more than 2 years old

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

Greetings from Liverpool!

The card shows a sketch of the Zoological School and Museum, and Electrical Schools, of the University of Liverpool. The card dates from the 1920s. As the rubric on the rear of the card says:

This is one of a series of 36 Etchings issued to assist the urgent appeal of the University of Liverpool for 9,993 contributors to provide £1,000,000. Please help to make known the appeal by using these postcards wherever possible. Further supplies can be obtained at 6d per dozen from the University and all Stationers and Booksellers in Liverpool and neighbouring towns. Please address contributions to A F Shepherd, University Appeal Director, 4 Moorfields, Liverpool.

The University was intent on making a success of this. An advertisement in the Liverpool, Daily Post of 30 March 1920 exhorts:

We ask the co-operation and help of everyone. We ask the wealthy to give a complete building, or endow a chair; the well-to-do to contribute substantially, and the less affluent to subscribe something. Such unity of purpose in working for the common good is traditional among us. We must not betray the younger generations, and contributors are assured that building operations will be pressed forward so soon as the necessary funds are available

The money was sought as capital for buildings, or for endowments, but it also seemed that money was sorely needed for day-to-day costs. The University’s Chancellor, on 9 July 1923, in the Liverpool Journal of Commerce, was reported as saying that “The fees paid by students amounted to only one-third of their cost, and therefore it was imperative that either there should be more individual donors or else the various municipalities should help them more …” Nevertheless, it remains unclear exactly why exactly 9,993 contributors were sought – an early match-funding scheme, perhaps?

The University had been founded in 1881 as University College, Liverpool, and had been from 1884 a member of the Victoria University (along with Manchester and Leeds). In 1903 it was awarded a Royal Charter as the University of Liverpool.

In 1909 Douglas Laurie, a lecturer in Zoology at Liverpool University, called a meeting “To consider a proposal to form an Association for bringing together the members of the Junior Staff more into touch with one another and with the life of the University”. Similar groups having been established in other universities and university colleges, in 1910 the Liverpool association dined with colleagues Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Manchester and Sheffield.

In 1917 Laurie called a meeting to draft a memorandum to the Board of Education, seeking funding for a raise in salaries for lecturers. This meeting was attended by delegates from 15 institution, and a motion passed at the meeting established the Association of University Lecturers. Professors were excluded.

This anomaly was rectified at a conference in 1919, prompted by concerns over pensions, where revised articles were agreed and the Association of University Teachers was established. Laurie was elected President, and served as such for one year; thereafter serving as honorary General Secretary for the rest of his days.

Along with NATFHE, the AUT was one of the two unions which combined in 2006 to form the Universities and Colleges Union. Pensions continue to be a concern.

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