Bring back polytechnics? (updated)

10 Jun

Update: 10 June 2013

A report into the future of higher education in England argues that the Government should revive the term ‘polytechnic’. (BBC)

The title would be a “mark of vocational excellence”, according to the Commission on the Future of Higher Education.

The report’s authors say that large further education colleges which already have degree awarding powers should be eligible to apply for polytechnic status.

The commission was set up by the Institute of Public Policy Research think-tank.

Do let us know your thoughts… 

2 February 2012:

In previous posts on higher education, we have discussed issues such as

  • How do you define ‘best’?
  • Shouldn’t a qualification called a ‘BA/BSC/LLB’ be the same standard wherever you take it?
  • Is a BA/BSc from ‘Oxbridge’ or a ‘red brick’ ‘better’ than one from a concrete university or a former polytechnic? Which is more important in that value judgement by student, parent, employer or politician intellectual rigour or age of institution? Is it really all about image and reputation?

Now it has been announced that further education colleges are going to play an enhanced role in offering degrees in England, as they are awarded funding for places previously held by universities.

Ministers want to make higher education more widely available through local further education colleges, and around half of the allocation of 20,000 lower-cost places will be in further education colleges.

What does this mean for further and higher education?

Does it matter where you study for a degree?

What is the difference between studying for a degree (awarded by a university) at:

Is this a return to the days of the polytechnic?

Should polytechnics have become universities in 1992? Did the so-called “Binary Divide” between universities and polytechnics matter? Did both have their own equally important and valid roles (the former more academic/research based and awarding their own degrees, the latter offering more technical/vocational education with a central body (the Council for National Academic Awards (CNAA)) awarding and validating the degrees)?

Should we bring back polys?

Would having a central degree awarding/validating body for all higher education providers create a level playing field and end the Oxbridge v Redbrick v ‘Plate Glass’ v ‘New’ university debate?

Do let us know your thoughts

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4 Responses to “Bring back polytechnics? (updated)”

  1. david 05. Sep, 2012 at 3:57 am #

    I am always amazed at the ignorance of people who think the universities were more academic than the old UK Polytechnics -nonsense. A bachelor, masters or PhD degree in any engineering subject offered by the ex polytechnics was the most advanced academic subjects one could take. In addition the added scrutiny of the external university driven body – the CNAA and the professional institutions ensured that Polytechnic engineering degrees of the highest standards. So enough of this stupid British snobbery that has no basis in reality. Some Polytechnics date back to the early 19th century and were known for innovations in science technology and engineering. The sad thing is when they became “universities” they lost their way. They were the real drivers of the wealth production economy in Britain. Stupid ignorant people.

    • Richard Fraser 05. Sep, 2012 at 3:42 pm #

      According to The Daily Telegraph ("Oxbridge effect: University 'pecking order' unchanged", Graham Paton, 5 September 2012):

      "The creation of a 'market place' in higher education has failed to break up the traditional university pecking order, according to research.

      "The popularity of degree courses is still driven primarily by tradition and reputation, it concluded. Researchers found that students continue to prefer older universities with more prestige and history over former polytechnics, despite billions of pounds being spent attempting to raise standards at newer institutions.

      "The study suggests that government attempts to create a market place in higher education by giving universities more power to set variable tuition fees has failed. It also underlines the challenge faced by ministers in ensuring that more pupils from the poorest backgrounds get into the most selective universities. The study, by Edinburgh University, found that older institutions were much more likely to admit large numbers of students from private schools."

  2. Shaikh 22. Jun, 2013 at 6:40 pm #

    For some time I have rejected the Oxbridge bias thinkimg that this was a myth created by those who did not get a pupillage or lost out to an Oxbridge student. That was until I actually took the time to look at chambers and I must admit I looked at, initially, London based commercial chambers. Some very easy research showed that out of the top 10 commercial sets in London over the last 10 years have given pupillage to 94% Oxbridge students, 3% to red bricks, 2% to others and 1% mostly to Australian/Canadian or South African pupils. There are Chambers who have almost exclusively Oxbridge members. You can look for yourself and you will find there are chambers who have ONLY Oxbrtidge students. As stated this is applies to the commercial bar, the criminal bar is less swayed by Oxbridge.

  3. Wesley Paxton 11. Nov, 2013 at 9:32 am #

    The sky is obviously the limit if I have read correctly that £20k is now suggested for fees. I hope that is per year?

    I have more than half a memory that Maastricht Uni offer courses for about £1,500 and they are given in English, If that is still correct, why does anyone bother with UK unis?

    With my time to come over again I would jump at the chance to go abroad and learn in English, and pick tip another language as well.

    Should slightly misquote Harold Greeley “Go South East (to Europe) young person”?

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