Searching for that perfect U.K university can be quite a puzzling process. Terms such as Red Brick, Plate Glass and Former Polytechnic are commonly thrown around. The U.K education system is one of the oldest in the world, with some institutions having origins stretching back to the sixth century.
The Ancient category of universities where founded before the 19th century, they are some of the first universities in the UK, the University of Oxford being the first followed by Cambridge. Universities in this category often have unusual traditions and the wearing of gowns outside of graduation ceremonies. The 600 year old University of St Andrews is notable for its May Dip, students plunge themselves into the freezing North Sea at dawn on the first day of May; it is said to promote good luck in examinations. Nowadays such universities excel in university league tables around the world.
The 19th century brought about a new age of thinking which is often referred to as the age of reason, attitudes towards education and social mobility were changing which led to the establishment of the Red Brick Universities. These universities were often in large industrial cities in the Midlands and North of England with great emphasis on practical subjects such as engineering. The Name Red Brick university commonly refers to the use of Accrington brick used in the construction of this category of university, The University of Liverpool is a prime example. These universities in the present day accommodate a wide variety of subjects and they are often frontrunners in technology and medicine.
In the 1960s many polytechnic colleges were promoted to university status or were established following the decisions made by the University Grants Committee in the late 1950’s or alternatively by the recommendations made in the Robbins Report in 1963. Michael Beloff coined the term Plate Glass for the increase in modern universities being established with their sleek architectural designs using materials including steel, concrete and glass.
In 1992 under John Majors’ government previous polytechnics and institutes of technology were granted university status.
These are the universities which were not former polytechnics and were established when higher education colleges were given degree awarding powers or merged with other institutions.
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