A very pertinent blog article by Professor Owen, Southampton University.
Universities were founded as ‘civic corporations’ in the medieval sense (this sense of ‘incorporated bodies’ is most obviously exemplified by Guilds). This is why they have Royal Charters. This guild structure still persists in some professions such as architecture and medicine that are self-governing. Their rule is exercised over their membership (for example, both architects and doctors can be ‘struck off’) and over who can be a member (they control the qualification/certification process).
There are three crucial elements here for conceiving of the University:
- It is to be conceived as a self-governing community;
- It is a community oriented to the common good of its members;
- Its standing as a corporation in the medieval sense is justified only to the extent to which…
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