Documents relating to the establishment of the Victoria University of Manchester

Scope and Content

The series include pamphlets supporting and opposing the dissolution of the Victoria University (VCA/25/1-5).

Administrative / Biographical History

In January 1900, a charter was awarded to the University of Birmingham. This provoked immediate discussion within the constituent colleges of the Victoria University about whether they should also seek to become independent universities. University College Liverpool was strongly in favour of separation, as was a substantial body of opinion at Owens, while Yorkshire College expressed opposition to dissolving the Victoria University, believing it lacked the resources to flourish as an independent university. During 1902 a pamphlet war developed between supporters and opponents of independence. Most Owens academics favoured independence, and they found an eloquent spokesman for their cause in Samuel Alexander, the professor of philosophy. The opponents of dissolution included many Victoria graduates, who believed that the value of their degrees might be lessened with the disappearance of the body which had awarded them. In May 1902, a committee appointed by Victoria University's Court to consider the issue reported in favour of dissolving the federal University. The proposal was discussed by the Privy Council and in February 1903, it recommended independent universities for Liverpool and Manchester (the University of Manchester would in fact be a reconstitution of the Victoria University, hence its full title of Victoria University of Manchester), with Yorkshire College having the option of submitting its own charter at a later date. Charters were granted to Liverpool and Manchester shortly afterwards, while Yorkshire College received a charter to become the University of Leeds in 1904.

Related Material

See also the relevant minutes of Owens College Court, Council and Senate, and the records of Convocation, a federal body representing the interests of alumni CON.