University constituency

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A university constituency is a constituency, used in elections to a legislature, that represents a university rather than a geographical area. University constituencies may involve plural voting, in which eligible voters are permitted to vote in both a university constituency and a geographical constituency, or alternatively they may only be entitled to vote in one.

University constituencies originated in Scotland, where the representatives of the ancient universities of Scotland sat in the unicameral Estates of Parliament. When James VI inherited the English throne in 1603, the system was adopted by the Parliament of England. The system was continued in the Parliament of Great Britain (from 1707 to 1800) and the United Kingdom Parliament, until 1950. It was also used in the Parliament of Ireland, in the Kingdom of Ireland, from 1613 to 1800, and in the Irish Free State from 1922 to 1936.

University constituencies have also existed in Japan and in some countries of the British Empire such as India. Today in the Republic of Ireland there are two university constituencies in Seanad √Čireann, the Irish senate.



Scotland, England, Ireland, Great Britain, United Kingdom

King James VI of Scotland, on ascending the English throne, brought to the English Parliament a practice which had been used in the Scottish Parliament of allowing the universities to elect members. The King believed that the universities were often affected by the decisions of Parliament and ought therefore to have representation in it. After the Union the Scottish universities lost their representatives in the new Parliament of Great Britain at Westminster.

The University of Cambridge and the University of Oxford were therefore given two seats each from 1603. The voters were the graduates of the university, whether they were resident or not, who had the vote for their University in addition to any other vote that they might have. After the Act of Union 1800 with Ireland, the University of Dublin (Trinity College), which had elected two MPs to the Parliament of Ireland since 1613, was allowed one member from 1801 and two from 1832.

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