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

‘British ex-Service students and the rebuilding of Europe, 1919–1926’
01 Mar 2018, 17:30 to 01 Mar 2018, 19:30
IHR Peter Marshall Room, N204, Second Floor, IHR, Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU

Georgina Brewis, UCL

Sarah Hellawell, Northumbria University

Daniel Laqua , Northumbria University

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. The post-war enfranchisement of women coincided with further changes in higher education, exemplified by the University of Oxford’s decision to give full membership to female students in 1920. 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. 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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