Scenes From Student Life

Episodes

EpisodeTitleFirst
Broadcast
Comments
01A Gift of Raisins20160418

01A Gift of Raisins20160418

It's October 2015 and 2000 new students at St Andrews University celebrate Raisin Weekend. Raisin's origins are lost, but the ritual of new students joining new academic families goes back to the very beginning of student life. The tradition at St Andrews was to present a gift of raisins - now new students offer alcohol to their new families.

In a booze-fuelled, fancy-dressed series of rituals over one weekend, freshers or bejants get adopted by academic "parents" and meet their new brothers, sisters, uncles and cousins, partying in their halls and digs, and celebrating on the street with ambulance crews, university security and extra police standing nervously by.

New presenter Ellie Cawthorne, who recently completed an MA at Nottingham University, braves the initiation rites. She uncovers past Raisin celebrations with the help of university historians - including the fateful year, 1933, when Raisin was banned outright, partly due to theft of female nightwear.

As we hear from University historian Dr Norman Reid, the idea of academic families goes back to a pre-university era, possibly in the 13th century, when informal groups of scholars - some as young as 12 - gathered round a fatherly master, himself a recent student. There were no university buildings, and teaching took place either in a Church or the master's home.

Producer: Nick Baker

A Testbed production for BBC Radio 4.

01A Gift of Raisins20160418

It's October 2015 and 2000 new students at St Andrews University celebrate Raisin Weekend. Raisin's origins are lost, but the ritual of new students joining new academic families goes back to the very beginning of student life. The tradition at St Andrews was to present a gift of raisins - now new students offer alcohol to their new families.

In a booze-fuelled, fancy-dressed series of rituals over one weekend, freshers or bejants get adopted by academic "parents" and meet their new brothers, sisters, uncles and cousins, partying in their halls and digs, and celebrating on the street with ambulance crews, university security and extra police standing nervously by.

New presenter Ellie Cawthorne, who recently completed an MA at Nottingham University, braves the initiation rites. She uncovers past Raisin celebrations with the help of university historians - including the fateful year, 1933, when Raisin was banned outright, partly due to theft of female nightwear.

As we hear from University historian Dr Norman Reid, the idea of academic families goes back to a pre-university era, possibly in the 13th century, when informal groups of scholars - some as young as 12 - gathered round a fatherly master, himself a recent student. There were no university buildings, and teaching took place either in a Church or the master's home.

Producer: Nick Baker

A Testbed production for BBC Radio 4.

02Town and Gown20160419

02Town and Gown20160419

The tension between university students and local people flared up into a bloody battle in Oxford on February 10, 1355 - known as the St Scholastica's Day Riot.

Recent graduate Ellie Cawthorne travels to Oxford to meet local historian Mark Davies and hear the grisly facts - 63 students lost their lives and others were scalped as the townspeople exacted their revenge on the scholars. Documents at the Bodleian Library show that King Edward III came down heavily on the side of the University, exacting penance from the town which continued for 500 years.

Chief archivist Simon Bailey tells Ellie that a final burying of the hatchet occurred as late as 1955 - 600 years after the event - when the City Mayor and University Chancellor granted each other reciprocal privileges.

The friction between town and gown is traced forward to today, with locals unhappy about the takeover of pubs and living quarters as university numbers increase.

Sidney Sussex college at Cambridge commissioned a video to make students more self-aware, and advised them to "ditch the gown" on a night out so as not to offer a target. But other events attempt to bring both sides together, whether it's a fun run or, at Oxford, the annual Town and Gown Boxing Match where both sides put on gloves and bash the living daylights out of each other.

Producer: Richard Bannerman

Series Producer: Nick Baker

A Testbed production for BBC Radio 4.

02Town and Gown20160419

The tension between university students and local people flared up into a bloody battle in Oxford on February 10, 1355 - known as the St Scholastica's Day Riot.

Recent graduate Ellie Cawthorne travels to Oxford to meet local historian Mark Davies and hear the grisly facts - 63 students lost their lives and others were scalped as the townspeople exacted their revenge on the scholars. Documents at the Bodleian Library show that King Edward III came down heavily on the side of the University, exacting penance from the town which continued for 500 years.

Chief archivist Simon Bailey tells Ellie that a final burying of the hatchet occurred as late as 1955 - 600 years after the event - when the City Mayor and University Chancellor granted each other reciprocal privileges.

The friction between town and gown is traced forward to today, with locals unhappy about the takeover of pubs and living quarters as university numbers increase.

Sidney Sussex college at Cambridge commissioned a video to make students more self-aware, and advised them to "ditch the gown" on a night out so as not to offer a target. But other events attempt to bring both sides together, whether it's a fun run or, at Oxford, the annual Town and Gown Boxing Match where both sides put on gloves and bash the living daylights out of each other.

Producer: Richard Bannerman

Series Producer: Nick Baker

A Testbed production for BBC Radio 4.

03The Wits20160420

03The Wits20160420

University brings together talent of all kinds. Students who study one subject emerge to do something entirely different, often taking their place in the wider world as writers, actors and - sometimes - wits.

Recent graduate Ellie Cawthorne enters the 16th century hall at St Johns College Cambridge, where one of the earliest satirical plays about student life was performed. The Parnassus Plays of 1598 showed two eager students fending off temptations of alcohol and lust, only to end up as impoverished shepherds.

She talks to St John's Librarian Mark Nicholls about the plays, which were part of a flowering of talent that enlivened the cultural world of Elizabethan England. Writers like Thomas Nashe and Christopher Marlowe were Shakespeare's contemporaries. They, as Professor Jennifer Richards of Newcastle University points out, could be considered forerunners of many later students who lived off their wits as much as their degrees. Hugh Laurie arrived at Cambridge to row, but met Stephen Fry, joined the Footlights, and both were launched into a performing career.

Ellie talks to the award-winning young director Liz Stevenson who tested her theatre skills at Nottingham University, and to Nish Kumar, stand-up comic, writer and broadcaster, who found during his years at Durham that he could make it as a latter-day 'Wit'.

Producer: Richard Bannerman

Series Producer: Nick Baker

A Testbed production for BBC Radio 4.

03The Wits20160420

University brings together talent of all kinds. Students who study one subject emerge to do something entirely different, often taking their place in the wider world as writers, actors and - sometimes - wits.

Recent graduate Ellie Cawthorne enters the 16th century hall at St Johns College Cambridge, where one of the earliest satirical plays about student life was performed. The Parnassus Plays of 1598 showed two eager students fending off temptations of alcohol and lust, only to end up as impoverished shepherds.

She talks to St John's Librarian Mark Nicholls about the plays, which were part of a flowering of talent that enlivened the cultural world of Elizabethan England. Writers like Thomas Nashe and Christopher Marlowe were Shakespeare's contemporaries. They, as Professor Jennifer Richards of Newcastle University points out, could be considered forerunners of many later students who lived off their wits as much as their degrees. Hugh Laurie arrived at Cambridge to row, but met Stephen Fry, joined the Footlights, and both were launched into a performing career.

Ellie talks to the award-winning young director Liz Stevenson who tested her theatre skills at Nottingham University, and to Nish Kumar, stand-up comic, writer and broadcaster, who found during his years at Durham that he could make it as a latter-day 'Wit'.

Producer: Richard Bannerman

Series Producer: Nick Baker

A Testbed production for BBC Radio 4.

04The Diarist and the Blogger20160421

04The Diarist and the Blogger20160421

Recording Cambridge student life in 1690 was Abraham de la Pryme, member of St John's College. His daily studies in logic, his passion for science and mathematics, the grim event when a friend commits suicide, silly pranks played by other students, and famous neighbours like Isaac Newton - all are carefully noted in his diary.

Ellie Cawthorne meets Cambridge chief archivist Jacky Cox who shows her the actual large battered diary kept at the University Library.

Jumping forward 300 years, Ellie talks to Bethany Hutson, who kept a blog during her time at Gloucester University. There are differences - Pryme forswore alcohol and romance but indulged in magic, while Bethany enjoyed a drink and tangled with love, but not with magic. Both though were equally committed to their studies, experienced the freedoms and the pressures of university life, leading up to the final exams and the degree ceremony when they bowed before the chancellor and became, as Pryme describes it, "compleat batchellours".

Producer: Richard Bannerman

Series Producer: Nick Baker

A Testbed production for BBC Radio 4.

04The Diarist and the Blogger20160421

Recording Cambridge student life in 1690 was Abraham de la Pryme, member of St John's College. His daily studies in logic, his passion for science and mathematics, the grim event when a friend commits suicide, silly pranks played by other students, and famous neighbours like Isaac Newton - all are carefully noted in his diary.

Ellie Cawthorne meets Cambridge chief archivist Jacky Cox who shows her the actual large battered diary kept at the University Library.

Jumping forward 300 years, Ellie talks to Bethany Hutson, who kept a blog during her time at Gloucester University. There are differences - Pryme forswore alcohol and romance but indulged in magic, while Bethany enjoyed a drink and tangled with love, but not with magic. Both though were equally committed to their studies, experienced the freedoms and the pressures of university life, leading up to the final exams and the degree ceremony when they bowed before the chancellor and became, as Pryme describes it, "compleat batchellours".

Producer: Richard Bannerman

Series Producer: Nick Baker

A Testbed production for BBC Radio 4.

05Lords and Sizars20160422

05Lords and Sizars20160422

In 1805 Lord Byron, a new arrival at Trinity College Cambridge, wrote to his friend requesting '4 dozen of wine', plus port, sherry, claret and Madeira. The life of a student Lord was very different to that of a sizar. Sizars came from modest backgrounds and had to wait at tables and serve in other ways to earn their keep at their College. Byron kept horses and even a tame bear, as well as spending much of his time drinking, playing cards and going to the races at Newmarket.

Recent graduate Ellie Cawthorne talks to Trinity historian Dr. Ross Wilson about Byron's time at the College and the great gap between the privileged and the rank-and-file.

Jumping on to 2016, Tom Jenkin, Deputy Editor of the online student newspaper The Tab, acknowledges that the class divide also thrives. What school you went to and where you're from are often the first questions you're asked when you arrive, and a father with a Landrover Defender has the same curiosity value and clout as Byron's post-horse and carriage.

For the less well-off student, the part-time job beckons, as it did for Gloucester student Bethany Hutson, who earned extra cash in an all-you-can-eat Chinese.

There is, though, in these competitive times, a new urgency to the degree which students aim for - nothing less than a 2:1 will do.

Producer: Richard Bannerman

Series Producer: Nick Baker

A Testbed production for BBC Radio 4.

05Lords and Sizars20160422

In 1805 Lord Byron, a new arrival at Trinity College Cambridge, wrote to his friend requesting '4 dozen of wine', plus port, sherry, claret and Madeira. The life of a student Lord was very different to that of a sizar. Sizars came from modest backgrounds and had to wait at tables and serve in other ways to earn their keep at their College. Byron kept horses and even a tame bear, as well as spending much of his time drinking, playing cards and going to the races at Newmarket.

Recent graduate Ellie Cawthorne talks to Trinity historian Dr. Ross Wilson about Byron's time at the College and the great gap between the privileged and the rank-and-file.

Jumping on to 2016, Tom Jenkin, Deputy Editor of the online student newspaper The Tab, acknowledges that the class divide also thrives. What school you went to and where you're from are often the first questions you're asked when you arrive, and a father with a Landrover Defender has the same curiosity value and clout as Byron's post-horse and carriage.

For the less well-off student, the part-time job beckons, as it did for Gloucester student Bethany Hutson, who earned extra cash in an all-you-can-eat Chinese.

There is, though, in these competitive times, a new urgency to the degree which students aim for - nothing less than a 2:1 will do.

Producer: Richard Bannerman

Series Producer: Nick Baker

A Testbed production for BBC Radio 4.

06Stuffed Crocodiles and the Chrysler Building20160425

06Stuffed Crocodiles and the Chrysler Building20160425

Royal College Holloway 1896 and 2016. What does the choice of interior design of a student bedroom there reveal about who the students are and how they behave? Or were supposed to behave?

Presenter Ellie Cawthorne examines a remarkable set of nineteenth century photographs of student study rooms with college archivist Annabel Valentine, and visits some of the students living in exactly the same study rooms in the 21st century.

She discovers how fears of female education and emancipation affected the design of student living quarters, and how students past and present transformed their private living quarters into public display spaces.

Hand made lightshades, Japanese fans, taxidermy, generic posters of Pulp Fiction and the New York Skyline, the student bedroom was - and still is - the canvas for generations of students to construct and communicate their new student identities.

Producer: Lucy Dichmont

Series Producer: Nick Baker

A Testbed production for BBC Radio 4.

06Stuffed Crocodiles and the Chrysler Building20160425

Royal College Holloway 1896 and 2016. What does the choice of interior design of a student bedroom there reveal about who the students are and how they behave? Or were supposed to behave?

Presenter Ellie Cawthorne examines a remarkable set of nineteenth century photographs of student study rooms with college archivist Annabel Valentine, and visits some of the students living in exactly the same study rooms in the 21st century.

She discovers how fears of female education and emancipation affected the design of student living quarters, and how students past and present transformed their private living quarters into public display spaces.

Hand made lightshades, Japanese fans, taxidermy, generic posters of Pulp Fiction and the New York Skyline, the student bedroom was - and still is - the canvas for generations of students to construct and communicate their new student identities.

Producer: Lucy Dichmont

Series Producer: Nick Baker

A Testbed production for BBC Radio 4.

07The Curious Incident of the Brown Dog20160426

07The Curious Incident of the Brown Dog20160426

The seemingly innocuous statue of a small dog, in Battersea Park in London, was the focus of some of the most vocal and violent anti-vivisection protests. Ellie Cawthorne explores the infamous Brown Dog Riots, when anti-vivisectionists fought students in a row over the methodology of training medical students.

On 10 December 1907, 1,000 medical students marched through London waving effigies of a brown dog, clashing with suffragettes, trade unionists and police. The protest was triggered by allegations that, in February 1903, William Bayliss of the Department of Physiology at University College London cruelly performed an allegedly illegal dissection, before an audience of 60 medical students, on an inadequately anaesthetised brown terrier dog.

This was just one of the series of infamous and influential Brown Dog riots which continued over seven years. They changed the shaped of scientific education and research, and transformed how medical students are trained.

Producer: Lucy Dichmont

Series Producer: Nick Baker

A Testbed production for BBC Radio 4.

07The Curious Incident of the Brown Dog20160426

The seemingly innocuous statue of a small dog, in Battersea Park in London, was the focus of some of the most vocal and violent anti-vivisection protests. Ellie Cawthorne explores the infamous Brown Dog Riots, when anti-vivisectionists fought students in a row over the methodology of training medical students.

On 10 December 1907, 1,000 medical students marched through London waving effigies of a brown dog, clashing with suffragettes, trade unionists and police. The protest was triggered by allegations that, in February 1903, William Bayliss of the Department of Physiology at University College London cruelly performed an allegedly illegal dissection, before an audience of 60 medical students, on an inadequately anaesthetised brown terrier dog.

This was just one of the series of infamous and influential Brown Dog riots which continued over seven years. They changed the shaped of scientific education and research, and transformed how medical students are trained.

Producer: Lucy Dichmont

Series Producer: Nick Baker

A Testbed production for BBC Radio 4.

08A Letter from the Trenches20160427

08A Letter from the Trenches20160427

Ellie Cawthorne looks at student life during wartime. The experience of students as soldiers, and soldiers as students, transformed individuals and institutions.

Herbert Eckersley, a Manchester history undergraduate, writes a letter to his professor from the trenches. He was killed in action near Ypres in November 1917 and the last letter he wrote to Professor Tout just 15 days before he died expresses the hope that he will soon be back in Manchester and working on his thesis. An irony - this history student died making history.

Professor Trout was especially close to his students. We have unrivalled access to this rare archive of letters to him from the front lines, from male and female students serving in the forces and support services in World War I. It gives an insight into the impact of war on students, the aspirations of individuals, and the bonds within their communities in the institutions they were part of.

Remarkably, the letters escaped the censor's pen, so reveal details of World War I scrubbed out from much other correspondence.

Learning from its mistakes, and the disproportionate loss of life and scientific and academic talent in WW1, the government had a more strategic approach to the use of students and university premises in the Second World War. A veteran shares his memories of the post-war university boom, and historian William Whyte explains how higher education was part of a post-war Allied plan for the 'deNazifacation ' of education.

A new breed of universities began to emerge, designed to prevent a World War III.

Producer: Lucy Dichmont

Series Producer: Nick Baker

A Testbed production for BBC Radio 4.

08A Letter from the Trenches20160427

Ellie Cawthorne looks at student life during wartime. The experience of students as soldiers, and soldiers as students, transformed individuals and institutions.

Herbert Eckersley, a Manchester history undergraduate, writes a letter to his professor from the trenches. He was killed in action near Ypres in November 1917 and the last letter he wrote to Professor Tout just 15 days before he died expresses the hope that he will soon be back in Manchester and working on his thesis. An irony - this history student died making history.

Professor Trout was especially close to his students. We have unrivalled access to this rare archive of letters to him from the front lines, from male and female students serving in the forces and support services in World War I. It gives an insight into the impact of war on students, the aspirations of individuals, and the bonds within their communities in the institutions they were part of.

Remarkably, the letters escaped the censor's pen, so reveal details of World War I scrubbed out from much other correspondence.

Learning from its mistakes, and the disproportionate loss of life and scientific and academic talent in WW1, the government had a more strategic approach to the use of students and university premises in the Second World War. A veteran shares his memories of the post-war university boom, and historian William Whyte explains how higher education was part of a post-war Allied plan for the 'deNazifacation ' of education.

A new breed of universities began to emerge, designed to prevent a World War III.

Producer: Lucy Dichmont

Series Producer: Nick Baker

A Testbed production for BBC Radio 4.

09A Very Essex Protest20160428

09A Very Essex Protest20160428

Ellie Cawthorne tells the story of the Inch Affair at Essex University in 1968. Its impact influenced generations of students and how universities treated them.

In 1968, a series of guest lectures led to vocal and violent protests in the newly established University of Essex. Enoch Powell's visit lit the touch paper, but it was the visit of Dr Inch, a scientist at Porton Down specialising in chemical weapons, which led to a full scale riot, arrests, expulsions and an occupation of the university by students and staff.

The unexpected protest and its resolution had a big effect on student politics, and the futures of the individuals concerned - some of whom went into radical politics, direct action and jail, others into big business and the House of Lords.

One of the key protest instigators, Peter Archard, recalls the incident and its lasting impact in Britain and abroad. We trace how the events in Essex linked with the bigger political picture of 1968, and changed the outlook and make up of student politics, eventually reshaping how universities were run.

We also speak to student activists today to explore how much the so-called consumerisation of universities has affected students' politicisation, and changed the focus, if not the fervour, of many student protests in 2016.

Producer: Lucy Dichmont

Series Producer: Nick Baker

A Testbed production for BBC Radio 4.

09A Very Essex Protest20160428

Ellie Cawthorne tells the story of the Inch Affair at Essex University in 1968. Its impact influenced generations of students and how universities treated them.

In 1968, a series of guest lectures led to vocal and violent protests in the newly established University of Essex. Enoch Powell's visit lit the touch paper, but it was the visit of Dr Inch, a scientist at Porton Down specialising in chemical weapons, which led to a full scale riot, arrests, expulsions and an occupation of the university by students and staff.

The unexpected protest and its resolution had a big effect on student politics, and the futures of the individuals concerned - some of whom went into radical politics, direct action and jail, others into big business and the House of Lords.

One of the key protest instigators, Peter Archard, recalls the incident and its lasting impact in Britain and abroad. We trace how the events in Essex linked with the bigger political picture of 1968, and changed the outlook and make up of student politics, eventually reshaping how universities were run.

We also speak to student activists today to explore how much the so-called consumerisation of universities has affected students' politicisation, and changed the focus, if not the fervour, of many student protests in 2016.

Producer: Lucy Dichmont

Series Producer: Nick Baker

A Testbed production for BBC Radio 4.

10Home and Away20160429

Ellie Cawthorne finds out about the changing experiences of students studying away from their native countries on the global campus - foreign students in the UK, and UK students abroad.

A British student abroad in 2014 describes his first day at his Dutch University. Indira describes the culture shock of the 'real' Britain outside the international student halls. The culture shock.

The number of British students studying abroad is rising rapidly, as the increase in tuition fees makes the prospect of studying at European universities increasingly attractive. Simultaneously, international students who gain degrees at British Universities enjoy increased status in their home country.

This ebb and flow within academic communities is not new. Travel and the exchange of ideas and of students, says academic Hillary Perraton, has been one of defining factors of university education since the 12th century.

We compare the experiences of foreign students today with those of their predecessors, documented through diaries, letters and autobiographies. Why have so many world leaders of the 20th Century, from Nehru to Bill Clinton, emerged from British universities?

Producer: Lucy Dichmont

Series Producer: Nick Baker

A Testbed production for BBC Radio 4.

10Home And Away20160429

Ellie Cawthorne finds out about the changing experiences of students studying away from their native countries on the global campus - foreign students in the UK, and UK students abroad.

A British student abroad in 2014 describes his first day at his Dutch University. Indira describes the culture shock of the 'real' Britain outside the international student halls. The culture shock.

The number of British students studying abroad is rising rapidly, as the increase in tuition fees makes the prospect of studying at European universities increasingly attractive. Simultaneously, international students who gain degrees at British Universities enjoy increased status in their home country.

This ebb and flow within academic communities is not new. Travel and the exchange of ideas and of students, says academic Hillary Perraton, has been one of defining factors of university education since the 12th century.

We compare the experiences of foreign students today with those of their predecessors, documented through diaries, letters and autobiographies. Why have so many world leaders of the 20th Century, from Nehru to Bill Clinton, emerged from British universities?

Producer: Lucy Dichmont

Series Producer: Nick Baker

A Testbed production for BBC Radio 4.