British ex-Service students and the rebuilding of Europe, 1919–1926

British ex-Service students and the rebuilding of Europe, 1919–1926
07 Jun 2018, 17:30 to 07 Jun 2018, 19:30
IHR Seminar Room N304, Third Floor, IHR, Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU

Georgina Brewis , University College London

Sarah Hellawell , University of Sunderland

Daniel Laqua , University of Northumbria

After the First World War, British universities received an influx of students who had undertaken wartime service – whether as soldiers serving at the front, members of the field ambulance or VAD nurses. The Board of Education’s scholarship scheme for ex-service students helped produced a more socially diverse student body, a social transformation of higher education yet to be thoroughly investigated. This paper investigates the war generation’s entry into higher education by focusing on one particular aspect: their contribution to reconstructing Europe by forging links with students from other countries, including former enemy nations. We will offer a short of overview of the impact of the Great War on universities, examining in particular the memorialisation of war dead on campuses. The immediate post-war years saw a plethora of international student initiatives, encompassing humanitarian efforts as well as the promotion of student interests at the international level. British university students were actively involved in these ventures; indeed, the very foundation of the National Union of Students (NUS) in 1922 was partly aimed at strengthening international links. Even when not active in such organisations, many British students engaged in internationalism, for example by participating in study exchanges and travel schemes. The paper will examine how young adults with direct experience of war experienced and fostered international dialogue and understanding. The paper is based on a collaborative project funded by an AHRC First World War Engagement Centre grant and co-designed with the National Union of Students (NUS) and the North East branch of the Workers’ Educational Association (WEA).


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