The question of domicile

The question of domicile goes to the very heart of what Newman sought to establish in Dublin: a university that was capable of providing each student with a deep formation, precisely because it was residential.

Initially there were three types of students attending the Catholic University: interns, externs, and auditors. The latter were non-matriculated students who merely attended lectures and so did not come under the jurisdiction of the university. The externs were supposed to attach themselves to a collegiate house and put themselves under the dean of the house, while their home or their lodging was regarded ‘as an integral part of the academical domicile; so that the young men so situated are as simply under the jurisdiction of the Dean as if they resided under his roof’.

The plan only met with partial success, as few of the students had tutors, so Newman altered arrangements for the start of the fourth academic year. In the new system, the externs would either become non-resident students or else ‘quasi interns’. The latter were those who sleeping and taking their meals at home should be accounted interns so long as they were ‘bonâ fide present in some Collegiate House during the business hours of the day, say from 9 till 3’, effectively placing themselves under its jurisdiction for that period of time; they would also be provided with tuition. To ensure that there was still a bonus on residence, and to prevent the administration of the University falling into the hands of those who had never resided there and were ignorant of its traditions, Newman proposed that degrees taken by non-residents, though bona fide and to the outside world possessing all the advantages of a degree, were little more than honorary within the University. In other words, they did not qualify the person for holding office at the University, as would a degree gained after residence.

Though it might seem that Newman was obsessed with the notion of ‘jurisdiction’ and laying himself open to the charge of attempting to apply a legal concept to a setting where it was inappropriate, his preoccupation was more than a legal quibble. Legally, indeed, he was on strong ground, for most of the students were minors (majority was then twenty-one years), and the University was therefore legally in loco parentis. But more importantly, Newman held strongly that the University undertook a grave responsibility of oversight for those who entered its doors; it acted on behalf of parents in its attentiveness to growth in virtue; it was ‘an Alma Mater, knowing her children one by one, not a foundry, or a mint, or a treadmill’. For someone with such an elevated understanding of the role of the university, it was not a matter of indifference whether jurisdiction could be exercised or not. This also explains why Newman had originally entertained the idea of the University and its collegiate houses being configured as a (personal) diocese.

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