Last night, I hosted a reception at the House of Lords to mark the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Department of Politics at the University of Hull. It is one of several events organised to celebrate this particular milestone. There are various public lectures at the University – in the New Year, the Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow will be speaking on reform of the House of Commons – and in February Palgrave Macmillan will be publishing a book, The Withering of the Welfare State, written by past and present members of the Department.
The event at the Lords was especially appropriate given that four members of the House have been in the Department (three – Lord Parekh, Lord Smith of Clifton, and me – as members of staff, and one – Lord Plant – as a PhD student) and we currently have over thirty students on placement in Parliament. When the placement scheme was introduced over twenty years ago, the first cohort going on placement comprised three students.
The Department has gone from strength to strength, both qualitatively and quantitatively. When it started in 1961, there were 3 members of staff and 10 students. After 25 years, there were about 15 members of staff and 300 students. Today, we have 20 members of staff and approximately 620 students.