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Picturesque Dunedin: or Dunedin and its neighbourhood in 1890

The University

page 120

The University.

The University of Otago was founded in 1869 by an ordinance of the Provincial Council, "with the intent to promote sound learning in the province of Otago." It now possesses endowments to the extent of 221,000 acres of pastoral land. The original grant was 100,000 acres; hut this was supplemented by an equal amount in 1872, further increased by 10,000 acres in 1874, and again by 11,000 in 1877. In addition to the revenue derived from its leases, the University also receives £1800 per annum as its portion of the Educational revenue of the Presbyterian Church, whereby it pays the salaries of three Professors. In course of time, and as settlement advances, the University is likely to become a wealthy corporation, and a growingly influential factor in the life of the community.

When first founded, the Otago University was empowered by the constituting ordinance to grant Degrees in Arts, Medicine, and Law, and had made application for a Royal Charter for the same purpose in order to increase the value of its Degrees; but the privilege was surrendered and the affiliation withdrawn in 1874, on the establishment of the New Zealand University; and although, from force of custom it is still called the University, it ought now properly to be designated University-College. Along with the Canterbury College, and University-College, Auckland, the University of Otago is exclusively a teaching body: and all three are affiliated to the New Zealand University, which alone confers degrees in the Colony. Some regrets are felt that the University of Otago surrendered its privileges, and only recently an unsuccessful attempt was made to recover them: but it is improbable that existing arrangements will be interfered with. The University page break
The University, Dunedin.

The University, Dunedin.

page 121system of the Colony may be regarded as completed for several generations, when we shall have teaching colleges in Dunedin, Christchurch, Wellington, and Auckland affiliated to one degree-conferring University.

The University was opened in 1871, with a modest staff of three Professors in Classics, Mathematics, and Mental Science, under charge, respectively, of Professors Sale, Shand, and McGregor. In addition, there are now Professors of English Language and Literature, of Natural Philosophy, of Chemistry, of Biology, of Mining and Mineralogy, and of Anatomy and Physiology. There is also a Lecturer in Law, two Lecturers in Modern Languages, numerous Lecturers in the most important branches of Medicine, and three Lecturers in branches attached to the School of Mines. Altogether there are nine Professors and fourteen Lecturers, The three Professorships, endowed from the revenues held in trust by the Presbyterian Church, on behalf of the country, are those of Mental Science, English Language and Literature, and Natural Philosophy. The University is, however, altogether unsectarian, no theological tests being tolerated, and no Church having any internal control of its affairs.

Originally, the University held its seat in the heart of the city, and occupied the building now converted into the Colonial Bank. Having sold its possession to the Bank for the sum of £27,000 (as many think, far beneath its proper value), the present buildings, with the adjoining Professors' houses, were erected in 1878, on a spot more quiet and Academic, on the banks of the Leith. The structure remains unfinished, although it has already absorbed a sum of £40,000; and there are various opinions in regard to its architectural beauty, and the fitness and sufficiency of its internal arrangements.

The Classes in the University are open to all who choose to take advantage of them, and are, for the most part, held in the evening, in order to consult the convenience of such as are engaged in business or in teaching during the day; and such constitute a considerable section of the students in attendance. In the earlier years there used to be a large attendance of young men engaged in business; the number has diminished, with experience that technical studies cannot be prosecuted in amateur page 122fashion; while the number of professional teachers attending continues to increase. Although the Classes are open to all, such as intend to graduate, must, before attending Classes have passed the Matriculation or Entrance Examination of the New Zealand University, which prescribes to all Candidates an Examination in English, Arithmetic, and one Language, ancient or modern, the remaining subjects being optional. If the Candidate have chosen Latin or Greek as his language, he must pass in three additional optional subjects; otherwise, he must pass in four. The voluntary subjects are such as History, Geography, Elementary Mechanics, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, &c. Ordinarily, a student obtains his Degree of B.A. after keeping three years terms: and a year's term is kept by attending each session at least two Classes, and passing the Class Examination in each. The higher Degree of M.A. is obtained by passing a more severe Examination subsequently in one of the branches of study taken up for the B.A. Degree. The value of the Degrees has been enhanced by the fact that the examiners are appointed in England: and it is believed that as a test of scholarship they will bear comparison with any similar Degrees in the United Kingdom.

The cost of education at the University is not great. There is a fee of £3 3s. charged for each Class per session of six months. The student also pays £l 1s. college fee. The main cost is the student's maintenance while engaged in study. Fairly comfortable board and lodging are obtainable from 18/- per week upwards; as good as could be reasonably desired for 25/-.

The salary of each Professor is £600 per annum; and a house is provided also for each of the four senior Professors. The Professors also receive, each one, the fees of the students attending his Classes; and these vary from a few pounds to £200 or more, some subjects being compulsory and others optional, some also naturally attracting a larger number of minds than others. The largest classes are generally those of Classics, Mathematics, and Chemistry.

The University of Otago, alone in the Colony, has full provision for the instruction and training of students intending to graduate in Medicine. A student of Medicine may prosecute page 123his entire course in Dunedin, and receive from the New Zealand University a diploma which is valid and recognized throughout the United Kingdom: and the cost of the whole course, including class fees, and the fees charged by the New Zealand University, for the Professorial Examinations and for the Degree of Bachelor of Medicine is under £100. A large number of Medical students prefer graduating at a Home University, partly on account of the larger experience obtained by prosecuting their studies in such places as Edinburgh or Glasgow or London: and such are allowed to pass two years of their whole curriculum in Otago.

The School of Mines is not yet so fully organized and equipped: still, with provision already made for instruction in Mathematics, Theoretical and Applied Mechanics, Physics, Palæontology, Theoretical and Technological Chemistry, Qualitative and Quantitative Analysis, General Geology and Surveying, a good beginning has been made towards the creation of a School of Engineering. Under present arrangements, a student may obtain the distinction or title of "Associate of the School of Mines, Otago"; and receive certificates of "Mining Surveyor" and "Metallurgical Chemist and Assayer."

Beyond the appointment of a Lecturer, very little has yet been done in the matter of instruction in Law; but as recent changes have made it practically necessary for all Barristers to obtain the LL.B. Degree of the New Zealand University, it is probable that a fresh impetus may have been given to the development of a Law School.

The University is under the control and government of a Council, the members of which are nominated by the Government, and who hold office for life. The Chancellor and the Vice-Chancellor are elected by the members of the Council out of their own body, and hold their office for three years. The names of the Chancellors and Vice-Chancellors who have successively held office since the foundation of the University are, as follows:—


The Rev. Thomas Burns, D.D., elected Nov. 10, 1869.

The Hon. Major Richardson (afterwards Sir John L. C. Richardson), elected March 3, 1871; re-elected Feb. 26, 1874.

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His Hon. Henry Samuel Chapman, elected Aug. 14, 1876.

The Key. Donald McNaughton Stuart, D.D., elected Sept. 11,. 1879; re-elected Sept. 19, 1882; Sept. 30, 1885; and Sept., 1888.


The Hon. Major Richardson, elected Nov. 10, 1869.

The Rev. Donald McNaughton Stuart, D.D., elected March 3, 1871; re-elected Feb. 20, 1874, and Aug. 29, 1877.

His Honor Mr. Justice Williams, elected Sept. 11, 1879; re-elected Sept. 19, 1882, and Oct. 6, 1885; and Sept., 1888.

The Council appoints the Professors and Lecturers, manages the finances of the Institution, and attends to all its external relations; but the conduct of the educational arrangements of the University, the discipline of the students, the courses and hours of study, the management of the Library, and such like, are entrusted to the Professorial Board.

In addition to their share in the Scholarships of the New Zealand University, several scholarships are available exclusively for students attending the Otago University. The Richardson Scholarship (founded in 1871 by the late Sir John Richardson, then Chancellor of the University) is of the annual value of £40, tenable for three years. It is won by the student who obtains the highest marks in an Examination in six subjects, selected from the following: English, Latin, Greek, French, German, Arithmetic and Algebra, Geometry and Trigonometry, Natural History, Chemistry, Geography and History.

The Scott Scholarship (founded in 1874, as a memorial of Sir Walter Scott), is of the annual value of £20; and its conditions are of a similar nature to those of the Richardson Scholarship.

The Gray Russell Scholarship was founded in 1882 by George Gray Russell, Esq., is of the anuual value of £40, and is also ordinarily tenable for three years. The examination is of the same character and under the same conditions as to subjects and marks as that prescribed for the Junior Scholarships of the New Zealand University.

There are also Scholarships available for Pupil-teachers in connection with the Normal School.

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In the year 1884, James Fulton, Esq., M.H.R., presented a hundred guineas to the University Council "to form the nucleus of a Scholarship Fund for boys and girls from the Taieri, who may desire to attend the Otago or any other University," The fund is now accumulating.

In the year 1885, J. Sperrey, Esq., Mrs. Bum, and Miss Dalrymple handed to the University Council the sum of £375 10s, collected by public subscription, to be devoted to a Scholarship for women, tenable at the Otago University. The fund is now accumulating, and will be applied to its purpose when the annual interest shall amount to £30.

Ever since the foundation of the University, the number of the students in attendance has steadily increased; and, whereas, in the earlier years only one or two students graduated each year, the number now annually graduating has increased till last year-it reached the number of twenty. In proportion to the population, the numbers are not only equal to, but in advance of the attendance at the English and Scotch Universities. The University is viewed with pride and admiration by the whole population, and is justly considered one of the most valuable institutions of the Colony.