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Convocation addresses of the universities of Bombay and Madras online

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cation of this University by conferring 178 degrees on the
candidates who have satisfied the examiners in the prescribed
subjects of examination in the several Faculties. And it will
perhaps help ns to form as rough estimate of the

The Kesults. i T_ J.T. i j> j_i TT -.1

way in which the business or this University has

increased if we compare the results of this evening with those
of some former Convocations. In the first Convocation, which
was held in 1862, only 8 degrees were conferred. Eight years
afterwards, that is to say at the Convocation of 1870, the num-
ber rose to 33. In 1880 it was 98; and in 1890, 182; so
that in the current year, which shows a slight advance on the
figures of 1890, we are conf erring nearly twice as many degrees
as we did eleven years ago. It is as well, I think, that we
should take note of these figures before we pass on, in ac-
cordance with the practice on these occasions, to review our
present position and to forecast the future so far as that may
be possible. The past year has been eminently one of change.

There have been notable changes in the staff of

Changesinthe office-bearers and important changes also have

bearer*. been in process of development in connection with

the courses of study for the degrees in Arts and
Law. Some changes have been proposed also in the course
of study for the degree of Bachelor of Science and grave de-
fects have been brought to notice in regard to the Matricula-
tion Examination, which must be cured if that examination is
any longer to be conducted by the University. To some of
these matters I will, with your permission, refer, and I will do so
very briefly. Our Act of Incorporation shows very clearly the

1891. The Sonorable Mr. Justice Birdwood. 253

intention of the Government to identify itself very closely with
our interests. The Indian Universities are not indeed depart-
ments of Government. The Act never intended that they should
be so. In the discharge of their special functions under bye-laws
sanctioned by the Government they are practically independent.
They have, however, depended largely in the past on substantial
aid from Government in the form of annual subsidies. Without
such aid it would have been impossible for us to undertake the
duties contemplated in the Act. And it was necessary also, at
the outset, that the members of the Senate should be nominees
of the Government. The Vice-Chancellor is also appointed by
the Government ; but what is more, the highest office in the
University, that of Chancellor, must by law be held by the head
of the local Government. And so it is that whenever the
Governor's tenure of office expires, we have the misfortune also to
lose our Chancellor at the same time. It was thus that during
the past year Lord Reay ceased to be our Chancellor. In him
we lost a Chancellor who had already, before he came to India,
acquired a wide reputation as an educationist. You will all
remember the eloquent tribute paid a year ago by our Vice-Chan-
cellor, Dr. Mackichan, in this place, to his zealous efforts in
the cause of education in this Presidency during his five years'
tenure of office. Lord Keay has been succeeded by Lord Harris.
And I know that you all share in my regret at His Excel-
lency's absence from our midst this evening. With the recol-
lection fresh in our minds of the appreciative and sym-
pathetic address delivered by Lord Harris to the Senate a few
weeks ago, it is impossible for us not to be sensible of our
loss. But we may be sure of this, that it is not from any lack
of interest in the University or the important functions it
discharges that Lord Harris is not present this evening. He
values every opportunity which presents itself of meeting the
Senate. His absence is due only, if I may be allowed to explain
it, to a kind and generous desire that the privilege of presiding
on this occasion should be enjoyed by the newly appointed
Vice-Chancellor. Again, under the operation of the provision
of law which makes the office of Vice-Chancellor a biennial
one, we were deprived during the past year of the services of
Dr. Mackichan, who brought to the discharge of his duties a
thorough knowledge of the practical working of our educational
system, great capacity for business and burning zeal for the
honour of the University. It must be the earnest desire of us
all that his retirement from office may be for a time only. He
was succeeded by the eminent Principal of Elphinstone College,
in whose honour we were so lately assembled within these walls

254 University of Bombay*

to testify to our sense of his great merit, and to pay to him
a parting tribute of respecfc. Of Dr. Wordsworth we may truly
say that, though he was so many years in our midst, yet, at the
last, he left before his time. We can never be unmindful of his
influence and example. Other changes there have been, too,
among the Deans of Faculties and members of the Syndicate ;
but perhaps it is not necessary that I should refer to these in
detail. We have lost, too, some members of our Senate who
were not office-bearers ; some have left India for their own
native laud, among whom are Dr. Burgess, Mr. Scorgie, and
Major-General White; and some have been taken from us by
the hand of death. Among these we have to mourn the
loss of the late Sir Mungaldas Nathoobhoy, who was one of
the oldest of our benefactors ; of the late Presidency Magistrate,
Mr. P. Ryan; and of Mr. Makund Ramchandra, under whose
superintendence so many of the public buildings in Bombay
were erected, including, I believe, the University Hall and
Library. We have lost also the late Mr. Mancherji Banaji,
and within the last few days Mr. Steel, Principal of the
Veterinary College and Hospital, whom we shall always remember
as one possessing in a remarkable degree the gift of presenting
in most attractive form the results of his researches in that
branch of the science to which he had devoted his life. He
prosecuted those researches laboriously and conscientiously, and
his early death will be deplored by men of science and by all lovers
of dumb animals in this Presidency. No less than fifteen vacan-
cies have been caused in the Senate by casualties, that is, by
the retirement and death of members, during the past year.
The Government Gazette which has just been published, shows
that the Senate has this year been strengthened by the appoint-
ment of twenty-one new Fellows. That Gazette is a remarkable

one and must always be so regarded on account

A Lady Mem- o f the new departure which it inaugurates. For

a e. the first time in the history of this or any other

University, so far as I am aware, a lady has been
appointed to be a member of the Senate. We know that, for
more than six centuries, ladies have held office, from time to
time, as professors of law or medicine or philosophy or mathe-
matics in the ancient University of Bologna, and when we have
professors of our own, I trust we may be worthy to follow that
example. But never, so far as I know, have ladies been admit-
ted to share in the responsibility of the administration of a great
University. The Senate will certainly recognize the appoint-
ment of Mrs. Pechey Phipson as in every way a right and proper
one, and will, with all cordiality, hold out the right hand of

1891. The Honorable Mr, Justice Birdwood. 255

fellowship to one who, in the days when a degree was denied her
by her own University on the ground that she was a woman,
bravely fought the woman's cause, which is the man's cause
also, in the face of much opposition and obloquy. By her whole
subsequent career she has vindicated the right of women to
minister to women in sickness and proved that the possession and
exercise of the gifts of healing are not the prerogative of one
vsex only.

I will now refer to the changes in progress in the courses
of study pursued by our students in Arts and Law.
Curriculum 1 the Both these courses have, as you are aware, been
the subject of very anxious enquiry by Committees
in their report a little more than two years ago, Their report
was considered in t]^ Faculty of Arts and by the Syndicate,
and, with certain modifications, was adopted by the Senate
in April 1890. The principal feature of the scheme is the
extension of the B.A. Course of study from three years to four
years, the object being to afford opportunities for a somewhat
wider culture than is enforced at present, which, will give,
in the words of the Committee, more time for digesting and
assimilating the positive knowledge acquired at college, and
keep our undergraduates twelve months longer under the influ-
ence of academical associations and surroundings. Though the
University does not itself enter upon the practical work of edu-
cation though it has no professors or teachers, yet, by pre-
scribing the subjects for examination for degrees, it necessarily
controls all liberal education in the Presidency. By thoroughly
recasting the scheme for the B.A. Examination, it has instituted
a radical change in the course of studies pursued in the Arts
Colleges by candidates for that degree. Hereafter, the B.A.
degree will be one certifying to its possessor's general culture
and not his special progress in special subjects. It will be
strictly an intermediate degree. It will be the common basis
for the special development of culture which are tested by the
M.A. Examination. I will not enter into the details of the new
scheme ; but only remind you that one of its principal features
is the removal of History and Political Economy from the list of
optional to that of compulsory subjects, and a slight reduction in
the amount of compulsory mathematics, and that the Committee
which proposed these changes saw ground to hope that the adop-
tion of the new scheme would have the result of teaching our
students to think with clearness and accuracy, to appreciate
evidence, to apply general principles to practical affairs ; a hope
of which we must all cordially desire the realization. Well,

256 University of Bombay.

though the general scheme was adopted so long ago as in April
1890, still some details had to be worked out before it could be
brought into operation. These were referred again to a Com-
mittee, which has during the past year settled the details so far as
the Previous Examination is concerned. The detailed scheme
for the Previous Examination has been approved by the Govern-
ment and is now in force ; so that the first Previous Examination
according to the new scheme will be held in the current year,
and the students preparing for it will have the full advantage of
the new four years' course of study a result on which the Univer-
sity and the affiliated colleges and all interested in the progress
of the country may rightly be congratulated.

The new scheme for the Law Course was also devised in
1888 by a most competent Committee appointed
Course 6 LaW ky the Faculty of Law, and was finally adopted
by the Senate in 1889. It came into practical
operation from November last. Its main feature is that it
insists on a properly graduated course of study extending over
three years, two of which are to be undergone after the law
student has taken the intermediate degree or B.A. or B.Sc.
His progress is to be tested by two examinations, and provision
is also made for an examination in Honours. Closely connect-
ed with the reform of the Law Course is the reform of
the Law School. Indeed, the Committee which proposed the
new scheme for the Law Course made proposals also for put-
ting the Government Law School on a proper footing. Effect
has not yet been given to these proposals, and we are not inform-
ed as to the cause of the delay. As the Government receives
fees from the scholars who attend the lectures of the law pro-
fessors, and as the maintenance of the professorships cannot,
therefore, impose any serious burden on the taxpayer, a cir-
cumstance which was made very clear in the Committee's
report, it is greatly to be desired that this question may be dealt
with soon by the Government. A satisfactory solution of the
question might perhaps be arrived at by the transfer of the
management of the school to the University. The matter is one
which affects not merely the education of our law students, but
the interest of the people of the whole Presidency. It is from
the ranks of our successful law students that the ranks of our
Judicial Service are largely recruited. I had occasion lately, in
this place, when speaking of the influence exercised by Dr.
Wordsworth on pupils who afterwards rose to positions of trust
and influence in remote towns and districts, to bear testimony
to the wonderful improvement which was noticeable in the whole

1891. The Honorable Mr. Justice Birdwood. 257

tone of the Judicial administration during the past twenty years.
We are still, however, far from perfection; and we must now
rely to a great extent on the improved legal training of candi-
dates for the Judicial service for a part of the improvement
which is desired.

Besides the changes in progress in connection with the
Matriculation administration of this University, there are other
a gigantic fail- changes also in prospect which concern us deeply.
ure - We are all deeply interested in the Matriculation

Examination, which looms so largely in the view of every school-
boy, whether he intends to enter a college and to read for
a degree, or whether he wishes only to qualify for employment
in the Government service. Well there can be no question
that this examination which every year assumes larger propor-
tions, and every year presents increasing difficulties for those
of us who have to carry it out is, in the judgment of many
who are well able to form a sound opinion on the point, a gigan-
tic failure. Schoolboys who have passed the Matriculation in
order to enter a college not infrequently find themselves unable
to understand the lectures which they attend. The Matricula-
tion Examination, in short, furnishes a very insufficient test
of a knowledge of English, and again the examination hall is
crowded with many candidates who come up for examination
long before they are properly prepared, and who thus add to the
perplexities of examiners. These results are, of course, most
unsatisfactory. The examination, as at present conducted, ful-
fils most imperfectly the one function for which it exists. I am
not expressing my own opinion merely, but that of experienced
professors and principals of colleges, who are much better able to
advise the Senate in such a matter than I can ever hope to do.
And it has been seriously proposed by men of the highest author-
ity that we should abolish the Matriculation Examination as an
institution of this University, and leave it to the Colleges them-
selves, as is done in Oxford and Cambridge, to hold their own
Matriculations. I will not now attempt to enter upon a discus-
sion of the merits of the controversy which has thus been raised.
I refer to the question only as one which concerns us all, and I
ought to inform you that, as weighty representations have been
addressed to the Syndicate on the subject, the whole question
was referred only last week to a Committee.

1 should now like to refer to a matter of still greater impor-

The reconsti- tance, ^ possible, and that is the Bill for the

tution of the reconstitution of the University, which occupied so

University. much of our attention in the reigns of 1888. That


258 University of Bombay-

Bill, as we all know, was the outcome of discussions suggested
by a former Vice- Chancellor, who, since the day when he first
became associated with us, has never ceased to take the keenest
interest in the growth and expansion of this University. The
University can never forget what it owes to Sir Raymond West ;
but it will, I think, always reckon among his chief gifts the
measure of self-government which it is the object of the Bill
to secure. The Bill, as it was finally agreed to by the Senate
and sent to the Government, was not such a Bill as to command
his entire assent. But such as it was, it has come back to us with
the candid criticisms of the Bombay Government and the
Government of India, and we are now asked by the Govern-
ment of India to reconsider its terms in consultation with the
Bombay Government. The Committee appointed by the Senate
is prepared to suggest a few modifications, which, it is hoped,
will be assented to by both the Government and the Senate.
If that desirable end is attained, we may hope that the Bill
will become law before the end of the year.

In conclusion, gentlemen, I would wish to say a very few
words about our benefactions. Those which have
>n8 ' been accepted during the past year amount to
Es. 26,895 ; those which have been offered for our acceptance
and are still under consideration amount to Es. 23,500 ; and
I have this day had the pleasure to receive a letter from Mr.
M. M. Bhownuggree in which he communicates the offer by
Mr. Lallubhai Samaldas of Es. 5,000 for the benefit of female
medical students. Our benefactions mostly take the form of
scholarships endowed in the names of individuals. I would,
however, myself wisji to see the stream of benevolence diverted
into fresh channels. There are objects besides
The -wants of the provision of scholarships for deserving students
the Univemty. W j 1 | c ] 1 are wor thy the attention of philanthropists.
We want, for instance, fellowships on the English principle, like
the Manguldas Nathoobhoy Fellowship, to enable students to pro-
secute their studies after they have taken their degrees. Again
we want money to make our library a good working library,
where every member of the University may find the book he
seeks, and receive that aid from books which the present library
does not afford. Again, we want professorships; but, most
of all, we want a University chest for the general purposes
of the University, we want to be lifted out of a position of
financial dependence and to become a self-supporting institution.
At this very moment we have no funds of our own to pay for
the lighting of the clock in our beautiful Eajaba Tower, we

1892. The Honorable Mr. Justice Birdwood. 259

have no proper railings to protect our garden, and we depend
on the Government entirely for the maintenance of the garden.
The end in view can be attained partly by fresh benefactions
devoted to such special purposes, and partly perhaps by a revision
of fees for examinations. However unpopular any project for
raising fees may be, it must be faced, if we are to compete with
the Universities of Calcutta and Madras, which are both self-sup-
porting institutions. In this western capital we cannot afford to
lag behind in such a race.



Gentlemen of the Senate, You will all share in my regret
that it has not been possible for His Excellency the Governor to
preside, in his capacity as Chancellor of the University, at this
Convocation for conferring degrees. We all know that it would
have given Lord Harris sincere satisfaction to perform the duty.
At the same time we can readily understand that there have
been difficulties in the way, at a period of grave public anxiety,
when it has been necessary, as it has been within the last few
weeks, for Lord Harris to visit in person the districts in the
southern part of this Presidency which are threatened with famine
and when, since his return to the Presidency town, the demands
on his time, in connection with the varied duties of his high
office, have been urgent and perpetual so as to leave him no
opportunity for such leisurely consideration of the affairs of the
University as he would desire before -meeting the Senate on such
an occasion. Gentlemen, when I had the honour of addressing ;
you, in Convocation, a year ago, I drew your attention to certain
figures which enabled us to form a rough estimate of the way ,
in which the business of the University had increased since \
the year 1862, when the first Convocation for conferring '
degrees was held. With your permission, I will revert to the
subject again this evening, as it is one that we
sha11 d <> well to bear in mind: for there can be
no question that, if our annual reports show a
steady increase from year to year in the number of candidates
who present themselves at the sevefal examinations, and an
increase also in the number who pass those examinations, then
such a fact is not only satisfactory evidence of the growing use-
fulness of the University, but a good indication also of the spread
of the higher education in the Presidency. The figures that
I will now lay before you are those showing the number of

260 University of Bombay.

Candidates for Matriculation and the number of successful
candidates, and also the number of degrees conferred at the
commencement of each of the three decades which we have
passed through since 1862, and also the corresponding figures
for the current year 1891-92, which is the first year of a new
decade. Now in 1862, there were 86 candidates for Matriculation,
of whom 39, or 45 per cent, of the total number of candidates,
passed the examination. In 1872, the corresponding figures
were 840 and 227, the percentage of passed candidates thus being
27. Ten years later the figures rose to 1,374 and 388, the per-
centage of passed candidates being 28 ; and in the current year
there have been 3,030 candidates, of whom 916, or 30 per cent.,
have satisfied the examiners. We see then that the number of
students who have annually qualified themselves for admission
to colleges affiliated to the University has risen from 39 in ] 862
to 916 in 1891-92. That is to say, in 31 years, the number has
increased more than 23 times ; while in the current year, for
every candidate for Matriculation who has satisfied the examiners,
there are at least two others who have prepared themselves for
the examination and have therefore received such advantage as is
implied by such preparation in the upper forms of a high school.
It is more important, however, to consider how far the students of
our affiliated colleges have been able to satisfy the several tests
prescribed by the University for degrees. We find then that,
whereas, in 1862, the University conferred only 8 degrees,
the number has trebled in 10 years ; for in 1872, it rose to 24.
In the next 10 years it has more than trebled, for, in 1882, it
rose to 76. In the past ten years, the rate of increase has not
been so high, but the actual advance is very great, for the
number of candidates who have actually qualified themselves
for admission to degrees to-day, the greater part of whom
have probably just presented themselves for admission, is 208.
This number includes one candidate who qualified for the
B.A. degree some years ago and wishes to be admitted to it
to-day in absentia. It shows an advance of 1 32 on the corre-
sponding number for 1882 and an advance of 19 on the results
of 1891, when 184 candidates qualified themselves for degrees,
of whom 178 were admitted. Of the candidates who have
qualified themselves for admission to degrees to-day, 130 are
Bachelors of Arts, 6 are Masters of Arts, and one is a Bachelor
of Science, 34 are Bachelors of Laws, 22 are Licentiates of
Medicine and Surgery, one is a Doctor of Medicine, and 2 are
Licentiates of Engineering. To sum up, 137 candidates have
qualified themselves for degrees in Arts, 34 in Lawf 23 in
licine, and one in Engineering. These figures show that

1892. The Honorable Mr. Justice Birdwood. 261

the affiliated colleges and institutions are annually sending out
into the world, in increasing numbers, a body of men who have
been making full use of the opportunities they have had for
preparing themselves for the public service and the liberal
professions. Such a process cannot be without its effect on
the community at large. It means, or it ought to mean, a
steady and progressive improvement in the conduct of all kinds
of public and private business for which educated men are
wanted. I say it ought to mean this, because this University has
never been content that its degrees should imply only that the
holders of them have reached a certain standard of intellectual
fitness and nothing more. It is not in the power of this or any
other University to guarantee that its graduates, on whatever
careers they may enter, shall be good citizens from whom steady
and faithful work may be expected. But as far as it lies in us, we
have always endeavoured, while discharging the duties imposed

Online LibraryK Subba RauConvocation addresses of the universities of Bombay and Madras → online text (page 29 of 66)