University of Mauritius
University description (as per official university website)
The core mission of the University is the creation and dissemination of knowledge and understanding for the citizens of Mauritius and the international community
The University of Mauritius aspires to be a leading international university, bridging knowledge across continents through excellence and intellectual creativity.
History of the University
Adrien d’Epinay, leader of the local plantocracy, proposes a University of Mauritius where, among other subjects, Law would be read. His blueprint based on the Royal College, the island’s premier educational establishment, aims at a cheaper, more efficient and more Mauritian Civil Service. John Jeremie, (British) Procureur-General, sees the institution in more esoteric terms, spanning numerous subjects in the arts and sciences, languages and religious and radiating its influence its influence to Africa and Asia, in a unique imperial design based on the intellect.
Rémy Ollier, leader of the ‘coloured’, rejects the idea as a ploy to close anew the Royal College to Mauritian ‘non-whites’.
Charles Bruce, former Professor of Sanskrit at King’s College, London, and Rector of the Royal College, outlines a plan to extend the latter into the university domain in affiliation with London (1869). Subsequent attempts to secure affiliation with Calcutta and Madras, after London, lead nowhere.
The idea, rejected at the Council of Education advising the Colonial Government of Mauritius, is seen as utopian, a patriotic illusion designed to lead the Mauritian mind astray and whose academic titles would have no value overseas. Proponents of the idea argue in vain, that a University in Mauritius would conduct more appropriate study schemes and provide greater scope for Mauritians.
A kind of British-type polytechnic is briefly evoked (and ignored) in the proceedings of a Royal Commission set up to examine ‘the condition and resources of the Colony’.
A School is set up within the Department of Agriculture.
The Director of Agriculture, taking advantage of a sugar boom in 1920, converts the School into a College of Agriculture. At the official opening of the latter he explicits the distance vision of a University in Mauritius, not only for Agriculture, but also for the Arts, Science, Engineering, and, possibly Medicine.
The Director of Education advises that the formation of a University College in Mauritius should be regarded as ‘an ultimate project’
Another Director of Education opposes the idea: overseas training brings enlightenment, broadening and stimulating contacts with the outside world ‘so necessary for an island people’ whereas a University College here could be ‘no more than continuation school’.
The Nichols Report recommends post-secondary training for London External degrees and for general culture.
The Mauritius Economic Commission ignores the University idea.
The Mauritian Legislature rejects the idea of a University College: unrealistic, utopian, unworkable, second rate – these are among some of the expressions used in the debate.
The idea reaches the electoral platform of the Mauritius Labour Party.
The 1960 Mauritius Economic Commission, chaired by James Meade of Cambridge, casts a tall shadow on the University idea.
John Lockwood, Master of Birkeck College, London, gives a ‘Not Yet’ answer to the University idea, on financial grounds.
Colin Leys of Sussex and Makerere, helped by a favourable verdict on the University question from the 1963 Sugar Industry Commission, chaired by Thomas Balogh of Oxford, and ‘a synthesis of Mauritian thinking’, formulates his ‘downreach’ unconventional university for small and poor countries.
The Leys Report passes through the Mauritian Legislature without a division.
After 13 decades, Mauritius attempts to make up for time lost: less than two and a half hours of parliamentary time suffice to transform the University of Mauritius (Provisional Council) Bill into Ordinance on the 7th of December, again without a division. The Governor’s assent comes on the 10th: the composition of the Council with the Speaker (a lawyer) as Chairman is announced on the 14th, prior to its first meeting on the 16th.