In this thesis, I have endeavoured to show why and how the University came into existence, and the shape that the senate, staff, and students gave to the University during its first year of life.
I believe that such a thesis is of interest at the present time in view of the rapid changes and developments which have taken place within the University during the last decade. During this period, there has been rapid expansion, a questioning of the aims and courses of the University, modes of entry and an effort to redefine the power of and the relationships between the Vice-Chancellor, the Senate, the Professorial Board, the staff, and the students. Such an analysis of the establishment of the University of Queensland can serve to clarify the context in which modern developments and problems exist and so help our understanding of these.
Up to the present, there seems to have been only one short paper written directly on this topic. This paper is "The Establishment of the University of Queensland" by Harrison Bryan. It is Bryan*s belief that the founders of the University of Queensland had to modify their original aims to have the idea of the establishment of a university generally accepted.
People like John Murtagh Macrossan ... felt that his [the worker's] best hope lay in increased technical education, particularly in mining and agriculture. It was useless to assure then that the stimulation of intelligence by higher learning would actually better equip the common man for this struggle, or to talk vaguely of raising the intellectual level of the community as a whole.... In short, they had to be convinced that there was practical utility in a university.
I think that the supporters of the University idea realized this, and, accordingly, deliberately 'back pedalled1 on the traditional cultural arguments and paid more and more attention to the practical or technical aspect.
I suggest in short that our University was sold hard to the community as a kind of superior technical college, and I feel fairly certain myself that this was done deliberately by the few active proponents of the University scheme, not because they thought exclusively In these terms themselves when considering the function of the University, but because they realized that only In this way could a practical and essentially uneducated community be persuaded of the utility of an institution, which, in its eyes was, according to the point of view, either superfluous or dangerously reactionary.
It is true that there was greater stress placed on the utilitarian aim of university education. However, I feel that Bryan is making an unnecessary assumption by stating that this was done to make the idea of a university more acceptable. ………………