The story of British polytechnics is one of resilience. They occupy a key role, opening up higher education for the masses. ‘Traditional’ universities face systemic problems with working class demographics and the ex-polys allow for talented students who may be lacking a classical academic background to gain access to the university experience. It is an economic reality that degrees are an increasingly essential requirement for higher paid entry-level careers; therefore, the ex-polys that provide qualifications to these low-income students also create wider access to the jobs market.
If Adonis’ plan went through, we would surely see a tiered system created when applying for graduate jobs, with employers potentially being able to accept applications only from ‘real’ university graduates, rolling back years of progress in reducing inequality.
Ultimately, what Adonis doesn’t seem to understand is that the polytechnic vs university debate ended after 1992. Most modern students won’t remember that there ever was a division and trying to reverse such a monumental decision won’t improve academic standards for either group; it will only serve to bring back a relic, a binary system that discourages progress for all students.