New Universities of the 60s


Donald Read, last updated: 8th September 2012

New Universities of the 60s: One professor's recollections: glad confident morning and after

Living history

How long do professional historians wait before writing about their own personal involvement in episodes of lasting significance in history? If they wait too long they are dead, and their evidence is lost. A striking recent example of important late revelation has come from Asa Briggs. At the age of ninety he has written a book about his career as a young code-breaker at Bletchley Park - Secret Days: Codebreaking in Bletchley Park: A Memoir of Hut Six and the Enigma Machine. ‘I felt', he writes, ‘that I was participating in the making of history.' Bletchley's activities shortened the Second World War by perhaps two years. Few living historians can match this example of personal involvement in history. I certainly cannot do so. But I was involved in the ‘new' university movement of the nineteen-sixties - in which Asa again featured. And this became an important chapter in British social history. I was a founder-member of the University of Kent from its launch in 1965.


Macmillan's Government had opened up university education to many more young people. The University of Sussex started with 52 students in 1961: by 1967 it had 3243. This was out of a total of 12,377 for all eight new universities by that date...

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