Page:EB1911 - Volume 22.djvu/53

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39
POLYTECHNIC

6800 members joined, paying fees of 3s. per term, or 10s. 6d. per year; and the members steadily increased, until in 1900 they reached a total of 15,000. The average daily attendance is 4000; six hundred classes in different grades and subjects are held weekly; and upwards of forty clubs and societies have been formed in connexion with the recreative and social departments.

The precedent thus established by private initiative has since been followed in the formation of the public institutions which, Later Institutions of this Class. under the name of “Polytechnics,” have become so prominent and have exercised such beneficent influence among the working population of London. The principal resources for the foundation and maintenance of these institutions have been derived from two funds—that administered under the City Parochial Charities Act of 1883, and that furnished by the London County Council, at first under the terms of the Local Taxation (Customs and Excise) Act of 1890, and the Technical Instruction Act 1889, but since the 1st of May 1904 under the Education Act 1902, as applied to London by the act of 1903. More detailed reference to these two acts seems to be necessary in this place.

The royal commission of inquiry into the parochial charities of London was appointed in 1878, mainly at the instance The City Parochial Charities Act. of Mr James Bryce, and under the presidency of the Duke of Northumberland. Its report appeared in 1880, giving particulars of the income of the parishes, and revealing the fact that the funds had largely outgrown the original purposes of the endowments, which were ill adapted to the modern needs of the class for whose benefit they were intended. The act of parliament of 1883 was designed to give effect to the recommendations of the commissioners. It provided that while five of the largest parishes were to retain the management of their own charitable funds, the endowments of the remaining 107 parishes in the city should be administered by a corporate body, to be entitled “the Trustees of the London Parochial Charities” (otherwise known in relation to the polytechnics as “the Central Governing Body”), this body to include five nominees of the Crown and four of the corporation of London. The remaining members were to be chosen under a subsequent scheme of the charity commission, which added four nominees of the London County Council, two of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, and one each appointed by the university of London, University College, King's College, the City and Guilds institute, and the governing bodies of the Bishopsgate and the Cripplegate foundations. For the purpose of framing the scheme, a special commissioner, Mr James Anstie, Q.C., was temporarily attached to the charity commission, and it thus became the duty of the commission to prepare a statement of the charity property possessed by the 107 parishes, distinguishing between the secular and the ecclesiastical parts of the endowments. The annual income derived from the ecclesiastical fund was £35,000, and that from the secular portion of the fund £50,000. The scheme assigned capital grants amounting to £155,000 to the provision of open spaces, and £149,500 to various institutions, including free libraries in Bishopsgate and Cripplegate, the People's Palace, the Regent Street and Northampton Institutes, and the Victoria Hall. A capital sum of £49,355 out of the ecclesiastical fund was devoted to the repair of city churches; and the balance of the annual income of this fund, after allowances for certain vested interests, was directed to be paid to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. This balance has varied by slight increases from year to year, and amounted in 1906 to £20,875. The remaining fund thus set free for secular purposes was by the scheme largely devoted to the erection and maintenance of polytechnic institutions, or “industrial institutes,” as they were at first called. It was the opinion of Mr Anstie and his fellow-commissioners that in this way it would be possible to meet one of the most urgent of the intellectual needs of the metropolis, and to render service nearly akin to the original purposes of the obsolete charitable endowments. For the year 1906-1907 the grants made to the polytechnics and kindred institutions (the Working Men's College, College for Working Women, &c.) by the Central Governing Body amounted to £39,140, and the total amount contributed by the Central Governing Body since its creation amounts to £543,000.

The general scope and aims of the institutions thus A Typical Scheme under the Act. contemplated by the commissioners are defined in the “general regulations for the management of an industrial institute,” which are appended as a schedule to the several schemes, and which run as follows:—

The object of this institution is the promotion of the industrial skill, general knowledge, health and well-being of young men and women belonging to the poorer classes by the following means:—

i. Instruction in—
a. The general rules and principles of the arts and sciences applicable to any handicraft, trade or business.
b. The practical application of such general rules and principles in any handicraft, trade or business.
c. Branches or details of any handicraft, trade or business, facilities for acquiring the knowledge of which cannot usually be obtained in the workshop or other place of business.

The classes and lectures shall not be designed or arranged so as to be in substitution for the practical experience of the workshop or place of business, but so as to be supplementary thereto.

ii. Instruction suitable for persons intending to emigrate.
iii. Instruction in such other branches and subjects of art, science, language, literature and general knowledge as may be approved by the governing body.
iv. Public lectures or courses of lectures, musical and other entertainments and exhibitions.
v. Instruction and practice in gymnastics, drill, swimming and other bodily exercises.
vi. Facilities for the formation and meeting of clubs and societies.
vii. A library, museum and reading room or rooms.

Within the limits prescribed, the governing body may from time to time, out of the funds at their disposal, provide and maintain buildings and grounds, including workshops and laboratories suitable for all the purposes herein specified, and the necessary furniture, fittings, apparatus, models and books, and may provide or receive by gift or on loan works of art or scientific construction, or objects of interest and curiosity, for the purpose of the institute, and for the purpose of temporary exhibition.

Other provisions in the scheme require: (1) that the educational benefits of the institute shall be available for both sexes equally, but that common rooms, refreshment rooms, gymnasia and swimming-baths may be established separately, under such suitable arrangements as may be approved by the governing body; (2) that the fees and subscriptions shall be so fixed as to place the benefits of the institute within the reach of the poorer classes; (3) that no intoxicating liquors, smoking or gambling shall be allowed in any part of the building; (4) that the buildings, ground and premises shall not be used for any political, denominational or sectarian purpose, although this rule shall not be deemed to prohibit the discussion of political subjects in any debating society approved by the governing body; (5) that no person under the age of sixteen or above twenty-five shall be admitted to membership except on special grounds, and that the number thus specially admitted shall not exceed 5% of the total number of members.

These and the like provisions have formed the common basis for all the metropolitan polytechnics. In 1890 a large sum The Technical Board of the London County Council. was placed by the Local Taxation (Customs and Excise) Act at the disposal of the county and county borough councils for the general purposes of technical education, and in 1893 the London County Council determined to devote a considerable portion of this revenue to the further development and sustentation of polytechnics. While the funds granted by the Central Governing Body may be employed in aid of the social and recreative as well as the educational purposes of the various institutes, it is a statutory obligation that the sums contributed by the London County Council should be applied to educational work only.

Dr William Garnett, the educational adviser of the London County Council, has, in a published lecture delivered before the international congress on, technical education in June 1897, thus described the conditions under which the Council offers financial help to the London polytechnics:—