150th Anniversary of Vaughan College
The modern ambition that is a Leicester tradition
In 1862 when the first class of students sat down in the Working Men’s Institute in Leicester’s Union Street (Vaughan College) little did they know that they were making the first tentative steps into what would become one of the key topics in educational debate today.
Lifelong learning has taken on a whole new world of importance as a changing and turbulent job market brings increasing numbers of adult learners back into higher education. But the values that the College was founded on 150 years ago could just as easily apply today.
David James Vaughan’s five years amid the turbulent streets of Whitechapel left an indelible mark on his character and when he returned to Leicester in 1860 to take up the position of vicar of St Martin’s he was eager to improve conditions and educational opportunities for the city’s working classes. The College which he eventually gave his name to taught basic literacy and arithmetic for those who had little formal schooling, literature, history, geography and philosophy offered at rates affordable at even the lowest wage.
When proposals were made for a new local University College in Leicester, it was only natural that the two organisations should work together. David Vaughan’s hope was that those working in the College should always realise that their purpose was to help their fellow citizens. With the same ideal the University of Leicester was therefore not born through the will of Government or an education authority, but out of voluntary commitment and a burning passion for a ‘people’s university’.
By 1929, Vaughan College had become the headquarters of the newly formed Department of Adult Education at the then University College Leicester where the ‘Vaughan Tradition’ would flourish. Just as major changes to the City of Leicester saw the College move to its permanent home at the Jewry Wall site, a constantly changing educational landscape has also seen the College’s ethos thrive and develop.
Its incorporation into the University’s Institute of Lifelong Learning in May 2000 reflects the University’s continued commitment to the provision of an extensive programme of high quality part-time courses for all, including degrees, foundation degrees and certificates.
Dr Clive Marsh, Director of Learning and Teaching at the Institute of Lifelong Learning, said,
Today, the ideal of a higher education experience that benefits all regardless of background seems a modern ambition, but it has been a cornerstone of the University of Leicester’s philosophy inherited from the spirit of a City dedicated to improving opportunities for all its citizens.
Dr Marsh continues,
To mark the 150th anniversary of Vaughan College, a two-day event will take place from 2nd-3rd July, that will look at what Vaughan College has stood for, how ‘the Vaughan tradition’ now fits into current thinking, policy and practice and the place of adult education in contemporary society. It will act as a forerunner to the annual international conference of the Standing Conference on University Teaching and Research in the Education of Adults (SCUTREA) which will be hosted at the University of Leicester from 3rd–5th July.
New Courses for 2012
This year, the Institute of Lifelong Learning also introduces a revised programme which includes accredited short courses in humanities and arts and in management studies. These are ideal for people who wish to ease themselves into study before committing to a longer, more intensive course. Also new for this year is the Certificate in Humanities and Arts from which people can progress to the BA Humanities and Arts.
The University’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sir Robert Burgess, said,