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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 17, No. 1. March 4, 1953


The university in the Western world arose as a place for the training of scholars in theology, law, medicine and the arts. From its beginning its purpose was professional training.

In the East it existed to train scholars for certain professions. In China it, trained scholars for Government service; in India it trained priests and technicians.

Everywhere the universities were started to meet a need for trained professional men because the knowledge necessary to practice these professions had become so extensive that it could not readily be handed down like the siklled trades from master to servant and much of the necessary knowledge was contained in written records. Moreover, skilled teachers were able to shorten the time of apprenticeship by their methods of pedagogy.

It was only later in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries that an artisocratic tradition arose inwestern Europe by which men of wealth and rank felt that they should send their sons to universities to give them an education to fit them for their station in life.

In the twentieth century we have reverted to the original intention of universities for professional training hut have accumulated certain traditional roles in addition.

In democratic countries the non-secretarian universities' purposes are at present—
  • To train men and women for the learned professions.
  • To advance knowledge by scholarly works of criticism and new writing and by scientific research.
  • To maintain a reservoir of learning both in the library and in the scholarship of the staff available for assisting in the full development of the intellectual powers of students.
  • To maintain the highest standards of scholarship by tests of fitness for entrance to its courses and by tests of the knowledge necessary to gain its degrees.
  • To keep its own scholarship up to world standards by travel of staff and other means of exchange of ideas.

To serve the community not [unclear: one] in the ways set out above but by university extension work and community service though professional schools such as medicine, social science, engineering, psychology, agriculture, adult education and so on. This last purpose is applicable more to state and provincial universities than to places like Oxford and Cambridge.

I have said nothing about the development of character in the student because although the all-round development of the student to be the best kind of human being possible is a general objective of the university, as of all places of higher learning, it is not one of the central purposes in its establishment. The university does not pretend to be an institution for doing the work of the home, the church, the school and the community. Its influence should be for good, but its central purpose is the stimulation and development of the [unclear: intelelect]. It must stimulate the students to think for? themselves it stands for the fearless unprejudiced search for truth. It transmits our present knowledge and culture and points the way to gain new knowledge.