Education think-tank demands the return of polytechnics


The return of polytechnics will be demanded on Monday in a report on the future of higher education.

The Higher Education Commission – a think-tank which includes four vice-chancellors – argues that their return is necessary to ensure excellence in a range of vocational studies is rewarded.

Polytechnic status was abolished by John Major’s Conservative government in 1992 when all higher education institutions were given the green light to become universities. This is believed to have prompted universities to promote academic education at the expense of vocational studies.

“Polytechnic status would carve out a distinctive place in our tertiary education system for institutions that focus on providing higher-level vocational qualifications,” said Nigel Thrift, vice-chancellor of Warwick University, who chaired the commission.

“Polytechnic status would send out wider signals about the importance of vocational learning. It would signal that the university title and the university route are not the only form of high status in our system.”