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Welsh History Review


Vol. 19, nos. 1-4 1998-99

The University of Wales, 1893-1939. The University of Wales, 1939-1993. Book review.

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Cymeradwyaf y llyfr hwn yn fawr. Yn wir, byddwn yn hapus i'w weld yn
cael ei drosi i'r Saesneg am ei fod yn haeddu amgenach cylchrediad o
ddarllenwyr na Chymry Cymraeg yn unig.
THE UNIVERSITY OF WALES, 1893-1939. By J. Gwynn Williams. University
of Wales Press, Cardiff, 1997. Pp 481. £ 25.00.
THE UNIVERSITY OF WALES, 1939-1993. By Prys Morgan. University of
Wales Press, Cardiff, 1997. Pp 239. £ 25.00.
These two excellent volumes complete the centenary history of the
University of Wales which began with Professor J. Gwynn Williams's book
The University Movement in Wales. (1993). The trilogy, covering the hundred
years of this federal university, is of much interest to historians who study
the development, politics, and vicissitudes of universities as educational
institutions in the twentieth century. The University of Wales was estab-
lished as a federal university in 1893 consisting of three constituent
university colleges at Bangor, Aberystwyth and Cardiff, and despite various
attempts during the hundred years to break the 'bonds of federalism' and
establish autonomous separate universities, in 1993 the federal structure
was still in existence albeit having added three more constituent institu-
tions, University College Swansea, St. David's, Lampeter, and the Welsh
National School of Medicine. It is worth noting that the federal National
University of Ireland which was established in 1908, fifteen years later than
the University ofWales, has been, by the Universities Act, 1997, diminished
in its authority and increased autonomy has been given to its constituent
colleges which now bear, similar to the Welsh colleges since 1993, the
nomenclature of National University of Ireland, Cork, National University
of Ireland, Dublin and so on.
In 1893 the charter of the University of Wales laid down that the
university was to be governed by a Visitor who was the monarch, by a
Chancellor and two deputy Chancellors, and by the Court which was the
supreme governing body consisting of 100 members. The Court
represented 'the popular nature of the university movement in Wales' and
the proportion of academic members was only 31 per cent.
The vice-chancellor was to be one of the college principals appointed in
turn for one year, later two years, and this important position was held in
the early years by John Viriamu Jones, principal of Cardiff, by Sir Harry
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