17 OCTOBER 1931, Page 30

A thoughtful little book is the Universities in Great Britain

: their Position and their Problems, by Professor Ernest Barker (Student Christian Movement Press, 3s. 6d.), and deserves to be widely read. Professor Barker, an Oxford man who was principal of King's College, London, and is now at Cambridge, has had a somewhat exceptional experience of our universities, and his concise and exact description of them is supplemented by some valuable comment. Like many of us, he is gravely concerned at the perils of overcrowding. " Personal and individual contact between teachers and taught " is, he thinks, " the one thing needful to a university," and it may be lost if the classes are too large in proportion to the staff, as is the case in more than one university. He states, as a matter of fact, that nearly half the students in our universities have received some assistance, and that the proportion is nearly as high at Oxford and Cambridge as elsewhere, thus disposing of the suggestion that the old universities are frequented only by the " idle rich." Professor Barker is doubtful about the technical and vocational courses offered by many univer- sities. " The University, like the Church, lives by the Spirit and for the cultivation of the things of the Spirit." Incident- ally, the new Nottingham University is not mentioned in the book.