Sayle College was privately-funded institution opened by the Minister of Education. Its principal was Herbert Bainbridge. The founding of the college had been influenced by the inhabitants of a dark planet. They were preparing the teachers and students for their world's conditions and way of life so they could be brought to their world and perpetuate their civilisation.
One student, Philip Larrent, tried to resist long enough to get an alien specimen to Professor Meechley, but on the way there, the aliens struggled for control over him and crashed his car. The Third Doctor and Liz Shaw witnessed the accident. They found the sample and took it to Meechley, who stole it. Later, while investigating the college on his own, the Doctor learned the aliens' plan from art teacher Clifford Leane, who attacked him. In the struggle, volatile chemicals were knocked over, starting a fire which burned down the college. The students and teachers were unharmed, but traumatised by the loss of contact with the aliens. (PROSE: The Dark Planet)