From the Archive - Women students at Oxford: petition for limitation of numbers

11th March 2011 at 00:00
19 March 1927 - Action is demanded to ensure the elite institution remains 'predominantly a man's university'

It is announced in the Oxford University Gazette that a petition signed by 210 members of the Congregation has been presented to the Hebdomadal Council asking that the following resolution may be submitted to Congregation: "That the number of women to be matriculated in an academic year shall not exceed 250 or one-fourth of the average number of men matriculated during the three academic years, which ever shall be greater."

The petitioners are apparently apprehensive of the further growth in the number of women students at Oxford and desiring that it should remain "predominantly a man's university" wish to anticipate an increase by means of legislation.

A document has been circulated to members of Congregation by the chairman of the Councils of the Women's Colleges and others, in which it is pointed out that the increase of numbers immediately after the passing of the Women's Statute in 1920 was due not only to the great post-war demand for education, but to the desire to provide an adequate staff of teachers and to secure financial stability.

These objects have now been, in effect, achieved, and for the last three years the numbers of women matriculating have remained stable. The maximum number of home students was fixed, and all the women's colleges have voluntarily fixed for themselves a maximum number of undergraduates which will in no case exceed 150.

There is, therefore, no intention on the part of any of the existing colleges to increase numbers, and, moreover, no new college can be established without the consent of the Congregation. The chairman therefore counted that the alarm of the petitioners is not justified, and that no legislation is necessary.

The matter is now in the hands of the Hebdomadal Council, who will have to decide what further steps to take. It would be very regrettable if a question which is bound to raise feeling on both sides should have to be debated in Congregation, and it is to be hoped that during the vacation some arrangement may be found which will be acceptable for both parties. If the resolution is brought forward next term it will certainly be opposed.

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