AR: Whilst this is a popular view in Cambridge, I strongly disagree. The A-Levels people need to get in might not be so high as for other universities and the subjects that people study are thought less "academic" (maybe they're more useful), but I do not see either of these as good reasons for APU not to be termed a University. Dictionary.com (which is the quickest dictionary to hand) defines a University in this way: "An institution for higher learning with teaching and research facilities constituting a graduate school and professional schools that award master's degrees and doctorates and an undergraduate division that awards bachelor's degrees." It sounds rather American, but I do not think that Anglia falls outside this definition.
(PeterTaylor) Is "higher learning" being used to mean "HE", or does America not have the HE/FE distinction? Either way, it's certainly the case that, in Great Britain, University used to be understood as HE (although technically being defined as having a Royal Charter to bestow degrees). Whether this is still the case, and whether Anglia used to be FE (in spite of the name), I'm not competent to judge.
(Mjb67) It doesn't matter what definition of higher learning they are using, as it goes on to specify that they mean bachelor's degrees, masters and doctorates. In this sense (and indeed in all senses) APU is a real University. I have no idea what the author of the above description is trying to say.
Didn't they rename it to get rid of the tell-tale 'Poly', or did they name it back again? No - Anglia Higher Education College became Anglia Polytechnic in 1991, and Anglia Polytechnic University in 1992 --Mjb67 Back in '99 they were trying to move the name to just APU and quietly ignore the Polytechnic bit. -- Senji
Explanation is in order, I guess: What follows is an incredibly critical version of the story of the 1992 legislation making a bunch of new universities out of old Polytechnic colleges, with rebuttals by AR
Perfectly good set of training colleges set up. Named 'polytechnics'. Intended to teach plumbing, wiring etc. Vital trade skills. To replace apprenticeships.
Renamed 'Universities' in order to try and downplay the separation between 'real' and 'fake' training. Doesn't work, predjudice abounds.
AR: It might help your case if you could spell prejudice correctly. I don't normally comment on spelling because I understand the problems of dyslexics, but I'm rather upset by this page. I fervently argue that there is no good reason for people to say that APU is about "fake" training. Prejudice should be countered.
I read that as the APU providing the 'real' training, I've been at Cambridge for over a year now and I'm less ready to get a job than I was when I arrived - Koryne
Mass mergers and renamings occur, in an attempt to confuse people into going. Also to fulfill gubblement promise of 50% attendance (or some large percentage of the population, I forget). End up with things like OxfordBrookes? - looks almost as good on a CV as Oxford-Merton, right?
AR: My sister is at OxfordBrookes? studying for a degree in Computing and Business Studies. She went there, not because it was Oxford, but because they offered a course she was interested in. OxfordBrookes? seem to be firmly wandering their way up the so called "academic league tables" and I have no doubt that some of the newer universities will come up and challenge the academic reputations of some of the older universities.
Amusingly, gubblement reintroduces apprenticeship to teach plumbing etc. Polytechnics respond by training people in Media, Golf etc. World boggles.
AR: That is a mistaken generalisation. I realise I have a biased sample of one and so not too many conclusions should be drawn. However, my sister frequently mentions her friends who are studying nursing, law, computing and business. I've not heard her once mention anybody who studies media or golf. That is not to say that those subjects are not studied, but then if one's ambition is to run a golf course, golf might prove useful. I know of one academic who suggests that good Media courses will involve Philosophy. I mean, when we get down to it, what is the difference in the possible job market between studying Media at Anglia and Philosophy at Cambridge? Let us not tear to bits the achievements of Polytechnic Universities.
Have probably angered quite a lot of people here. Elitism is becoming frowned upon.
I am not against high standards. I am in favour of competition between students. I think competition is useful to improve one's standards. It is not the be and end all of education. I enjoy the privilege of being at Cambridge University, but I remember that it is a privilege. If I had been brought up in care because I had had a poverty stricken mentally ill mother, an absent and convicted father and had ceased to be interested in school at the age of 12 because I'd found drug dealing more profitable, then I would not be able to have this debate. I really do believe a university education should be open to as many as possible, but I do not think that opportunity should cause general university standards to be reduced.
What follows is Mjb67's more sincere and sympathetic description of APU and the 1992-group issue, with rebuttals by AR and subsequent discussion
The university league tables pretty much show the truth. The Guardian table shows APU as 96 overall (out of 151) for teaching, so a little below average overall (and in the closely contested middle ground), however it comes 19/62 as a nursing school for example. Pretty much an average university for these days, with one or two subjects in which it is well respected (presumably where they have managed to bag some good academic staff).
AR: Well, you're one of the few people in the academic world who think "The university league tables pretty much show the truth." Which university league tables are definitive? 96 out of 151 seems pretty good for a Polytechnic University. I presume that to have good departments they have manged to "bag" some good academic students as well.
Mjb67: It doesn't really matter what league tables you use, they just weight the data differently (taken from a combination of the Higher Education Statistics Agency, the Research Assessment Exercise, and the Universities' own official figures). So they show the truth, in the sense that they are based on facts and not subjective values (although some subjective values do creep in to the RAE figures). The point I am making above is that APU is a pretty decent University, well above average for an ex-Poly institution, and in the middle ground overall. And yes, they have had some good students apply, but quality of teaching counts for a lot more.
I can't think of a single outstanding success story from the whole Polytechnic embarrassment, and although there are a few old universities towards the bottom of the league (e.g. Paisley University, which is an interesting case in itself) it is overwhelmingly populated by the ex Polys. However there were many universities founded in the 60s that are now excellent institutions (e.g. Warwick, York) so maybe the ex Polys just need some more time?
AR: In some subjects, the newer univeristies are ranked more highly than the old ones. This is good and healthy competition. One cannot expect the former polytechnics to leap up the tables yet. They are moving up faster than some would have imagined. I agree with your analysis that they need more time. OxfordBrookes? is rated highly now on many of the "League Tables". I don't think that counts as a failure story.
Mjb67: You are absolutely right. In fact I had forgotten about OxfordBrookes?, which has had the greatest success out of all the 1992-group, and is a perfectly fine University. Actually in writing the last couple of paras I was trying to say that I rather respect the efforts of APU, and was trying to present a contrast to whoever wrote the first few paras which show an over-the-top prejudice against new Unis. That doesn't change the fact that none of the 1992-group have exam results in the top 25%, my definition of 'outstanding success'. Nor does it change that I find the shilly-shallying of the government over the relative status of academic and vocational qualifications embarrassing.