This article retraces the infamous controversies between the Edinburgh Review and Oxford in the early 19th century. It seeks to broaden the understanding of the origins and background of John Henry Newman’s idea of a university by analyzing the connections and differences on both sides of the controversies, drawing from writers such as Sidney Smith, E. Copleston, W. Hamilton, and Newman himself. The article suggests that the controversies were one of the important bases for the formation of Newman’s idea of a university, particularly Hamilton’s idea of a combined model of a professorial and a tutorial system. Additionally, the philosophical view of intellectual training had a significant influence on Newman’s educational thought. In other words, Newman’s educational thought actually was a comprehensive multi-dimensional synthesis from a number of contemporary debates in the transformational era of modern society rather than a one-dimensional structure of mind solidification. Consequently, Newman’s defense of religion and the traditional university model should be seen as a development and adaptation that contained some elements of modernity.