"Real Artists Ship"

Colin Johnson’s blog

Archive for June, 2010


Thursday, June 24th, 2010

In recent years, people comment less on the conversion in 1992 of the UK polytechnics into universities. The issue does come up occasionally, though, for example it was discussed by Tristram Hunt on last week’s BBC2 Review Show. Typically, when this is raised, it is with reference to some supposed long “polytechnic tradition”, with the assumption that the conversion to universities is a relatively recent event in these institutions’ histories compared with an extended history as polytechnic. Interestingly, though, this is rapidly becoming not the case. Most polytechnics, as such, were not founded until the early 70s (though most can trace their history, sometimes with aching desperation, to some 19th century institution). Given that the conversion to university status happened around 1992/93, many of these institutions have now been universities for around the same length of time as they were polytechnics. This doesn’t really make any substantive contribution to the debate on whether this change was a good thing – but it puts it into interesting historical perspective.