Rustication (academia)

Rustication is a term used at Oxford, Cambridge and Durham[1] Universities to mean being suspended or expelled temporarily, or, in more recent times, to leave temporarily for welfare or health reasons.[citation needed] The term derives from the Latin word rus, countryside, to indicate that a student has been sent back to his or her family in the country,[2] or from medieval Latin rustici, meaning "heathens or barbarians" (missus in rusticōs, "sent among ..."). Depending on the conditions given, a student who has been rusticated may not be allowed to enter any of the university buildings, or even travel to within a certain distance of them. The related term bannimus implies a permanent, publicly announced expulsion, at least in Oxford.[3]

The term is still used in British public schools (i.e., private schools), and was used in the United States during the 19th century, although it has been superseded by the term "suspension".[citation needed]

Use in the United Kingdom


Notable Britons who were rusticated during their time at University have included:

Use in the United States


The term was widely used in the United States in the 19th century, and on occasion, later. Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner, in The Gilded Age, have a character explain the term:

"Philip used to come to Fallkill often while he was in college. He was once rusticated here for a term."


"Suspended for some College scrape."[9]

In a story in the August 1858 Atlantic Monthly,[10] a character reminisces:

"It was long before you were born, my dear, that, for some college peccadilloes,—it is so long ago that I have almost forgotten now what they were,—I was suspended (rusticated we called it) for a term, and advised by the grave and dignified president to spend my time in repenting and in keeping up with my class. I had no mind to come home; I had no wish, by my presence, to keep the memory of my misdemeanors before my father's mind for six months; so I asked and gained leave to spend the summer in a little town in Western Massachusetts, where, as I said, I should have nothing to tempt me from my studies."

Kevin Starr writes of Richard Henry Dana Jr. that:[11]

"Harvard's rigid rules and narrow curriculum had proved equally repressive. Rusticated for taking part in a student rebellion, Dana had spent six months in quiet rural study in Andover under a kindly clerical tutor."

A biographer refers to one of James Russell Lowell's college letters as "written while he was at Concord because rusticated".[12]

In a 1932 letter to Time, the publisher William Randolph Hearst denied he had been expelled from Harvard College, saying he had instead been "rusticated in [1886] for an excess of political enthusiasm" and had simply never returned.[13]

The term is still used occasionally in the United States. For example:

"The penalty for plagiarism at Harvard Extension is a failing grade in the course and rustication from the university for at least one calendar year."[14]

At Rice University, rustication is a punishment separate from suspension. Students who have been rusticated are banned from social activities on campus and are only allowed on campus to attend class.[15]

See also



  1. ^ "General Regulation IV - Discipline". Durham University. Retrieved 3 March 2014.
  2. ^ "Definition of rusticate, parry, amplify, mutter". Archived from the original on 27 September 2005. Retrieved 3 March 2014.
  3. ^   One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChambers, Ephraim, ed. (1728). "Bannimus". Cyclopædia, or an Universal Dictionary of Arts and Sciences (1st ed.). James and John Knapton, et al. p. 80.
  4. ^ "John Milton Biography - life, family, children, story, death, history, wife, school, young, son, information, born". Retrieved 7 January 2014.
  5. ^ "The Poetical Works of John Dryden, Volume 1 by John Dryden - Free Ebook". 1 March 2004. Retrieved 7 January 2014.
  6. ^ "Count Julian by Walter Savage Landor - Free Ebook". 1 May 2003. Retrieved 7 January 2014.
  7. ^ "Algernon Charles Swinburne". Retrieved 7 January 2014.
  8. ^ "Oscar Wilde". Biography online. 22 November 2006. Retrieved 7 January 2014.
  9. ^ "The Gilded Age, Part 3. by Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner - Free Ebook". 20 June 2004. Retrieved 7 January 2014.
  10. ^ "The Atlantic Monthly, Volume 02, No. 10, August, 1858 by Various - Free Ebook". 1 January 2004. Retrieved 7 January 2014.
  11. ^ [1][dead link]
  12. ^ [2][dead link]
  13. ^ "Rusticated Hearst: A newspaper tycoon defends his Harvard record". Time Magazine. 11 January 1932.
  14. ^ Harvard Extension School (2009). Course syllabus. Retrieved from[dead link]
  15. ^ "Code of Conduct : Rice University". Retrieved 7 January 2014.