Throughout its relatively brief existence, the English East India Company's college in Hertfordshire was hotly debated in Company headquarters, parliament, and the press. These disputes are deeply revealing of contemporary attitudes to the inter-related issues of elite education, government, ‘Britishness’, and empire. Previously, historians interested in the relationship between education and empire have concentrated largely on British attempts to construct colonial subjects, but just as important and just as controversial to contemporaries was the concomitant endeavour to create colonial officials. On a practical level, disputes in educational theory made it difficult to decide on how to train recruits who would satisfy growing demands for transparency, accountability, and merit. Furthermore, on certain points contemporaries fundamentally disagreed about which qualities an imperial official should have. These disagreements reflected deeper uncertainties, particularly regarding the ideal relationship to be fostered between the Company, Britain, and India. In short, this debate highlights the tensions, anxieties, and ambiguities surrounding reform and imperial expansion in the early nineteenth century.