by the International Students’ club

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by the International Students’ club

Moderator: Good morning. We continue to get acquainted with universities of different countries. Today we devote our round table to such a country as Great Britain. The universities of Great Britain are diverse in their origin and traditions, status and methods, but three groups can be distinguished at once. They are first Oxford and Cambridge, secondly the Scottish Universities, and thirdly the English civic universities or red-brick universities. With us in the studio are students who are interested in these three groups of universities from research point of view. So meet Andrew Marev, Kate Sarevski and Angela Davidson who carry out research on these three groups of universities. They came from different parts of Europe to participate in international students’ forum devoted to university research activities. We are glad they agreed to present some of their research outcomes to us. Please, tell us what group of university you are writing about and characterize your group in a brief way. Who would like to start?

Kate Sarevski: I think it’ll be good to start with Oxbridge, that is Cambridge and Oxford, the oldest universities of England and probably the world that date from the 12th and 13th, centuries. They are almost identical, more like two branches of the same university then like separate unconnected universities - which they in fact are. Their history has been very familiar. Both retained the system of residential colleges when other medieval universities abandoned it. So they are unique from this point of view. Each college is run by a Master and a Board of Fellows: they maintain their buildings, repair and add to or demolish them. They arrange about the food and the colleges servants. When the Master dies or retires it in usually the Fellows who elect a new one.

I may add that Oxbridge have (has) been historically associated with the state religion. Until 1854 at Oxford and 1856 at Cam only members of the Church of England could enter the Universities. In modern times Oxbridge are (is) associated with the higher ranks of society. The belief is that students at Oxbridge are often not thinking of an academic career but have instead ambitions at the Bar or in politics

Moderator: Thank you, Jane. And to when the Scottish universities appeared? Who of you studies this group?

Andrew Marev: That’s the topic of my research. I specialize in pedagogies and take a special interest in the way the Scottish Universities teach students, otherwise I am interested in their methods and techniques of teaching. These universities inherited a lot from great universities of Paris and Bolonia. They were found much later than Oxbridge, to be exact it was at the end of 15th beginning of the 16th centuries. As the sources tells their first students could be both representatives of ministers' and the sons of small farmers. That means that even at the dawn of their appearance there were quite open to the public, as we say now quite democratic. These universities in accordance to their European classical examples strived to represent sciences in a maximum range. Among them there were not only law, theology, philosophy, but also mathematics, medicine, just everything that Europe can afford at that time.

Moderator: Thank you, Andrew. And what will we here from our third participant?

Angela Davidson: Hi, I am Angela Davidson. I specialize in sociology of education . The topic of my research is English Civic Universities, The ECUs in short. Most often this group of universities is called ref brick universities or red bricks. In fact they were built of red bricks. Color is somehow an important symbol of different universities of the world. I know that for example, Kiev state university’s buildings are always painted red, just as Minsk Politechnical Academy buildings have always been green. But as French people say ‘revenon au nos muton’ - let us come back to our subject of our discussion. Thus English civic universities even in their appearance contrasted while color of stones of Oxbridge. They, I mean readbrick universities are all comparatively new formations. London University or as it is traditionally called "London University College" was founded in 1827 (that is 19th century). Its first years were years of struggle for survival against hostile forces of Church and State until 1850s. London University provided a university education for those who were not admitted to Oxbridge. The other provincial universities were started for people who were debarred from Oxbridge, not by religion, but by money or rather lack of it. Simultaneously there appeared technical universities and poly, such as Colleges of Advanced Technology, Technical Colleges, Training Colleges and other institutions.

I want to add that today courses in Arts and Science are offered by most Universities. At the end of the previous century about 45% of full-time students in British universities were engaged in the study of art subjects such as history, law, economics, languages; the others were studying pure or applied sciences such as medicine, dentistry, technology, agriculture.. I still need to check statistical data on what is the proportion today and to compare it with other countries data.

Moderator: Thank you all for interesting factual information you gave us. And now I suggest to touch upon one more issue and that is university studying process.

Kate Sarevski: Teaching at Oxbridge is carried out by the tutorial system. This system of individual tuition is one of the ways in which Oxbridge differ(s) from all the other English Universities. Every student has a tutor and as soon as you come to Oxbridge one of the first thing you do is to go and see your tutor. Tutors plan students' work, suggest the books that they should read and set their work, for example an essay to write. Each week a student goes to their tutor, perhaps with two or three other students, and the tutor discusses the work that one has done for a week, criticizes in details end set a the next week's work.

Andrew Marev: As I have already said told Scottish universities resembled the classical ones of Europe where students acquired knowledge exclusively by means of lectures and working in libraries. And apart from that they were left alone. No further meetings or any kind of supervision.

Angela Davidson: In Red Brick universities teaching combines lectures, practical classes (in scientific subjects) and small group studies in either seminars or tutorials. The British University year is divided into three terms, each term roughly lasts from 8 to 10 weeks. Each term is crowded with activity and vocation between the terms - a month at Christmas, a month at Easter and 3 or 4 months in summer - are mainly periods of intellectual digestion and private study. University courses generally extend over 3 or 4 years, though in medicine, veterinary, dentistry 5or 6 years are required. A person studying at the University is called an undergraduate, those who have taken the first degree (B.A. or B.S) are called graduates, those who are doing further study or research for the degree of Master or Doctor are called post-graduates. Degree titles may vary according to the practice of each University.

(B.A. - Bachelor of Arts, B.B.- Bachelor of Science).

Moderator: Let me once again tell our guests thank you for coming sharing your vision of the subject with us. So we got a general outlook of the varsity of British universities. About the topics of our new round tables you’ll know at our Internet page. Use its interactive page for your suggestion and criticism. All the best to you. Be in touch.




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