In the United Kingdom (UK), a post-1992 university, synonymous with new university or modern university, is a former polytechnic or central institution that was given university status through the Further and Higher Education Act 1992, or an institution that has been granted university status since 1992 without receiving a royal charter.[1] This is used in contrast to "pre-1992" universities.[2]

Prior to its use in its current sense, the term "new universities" had been used historically to refer to universities that were at the time new. For instance, in the mid-19th century, the term "new universities" was used in England to distinguish the recently established universities of Durham and London from the "old universities" of Oxford and Cambridge.[3][4] In the early 20th century, the term was used to describe the civic universities that had recently gained university status, such as Bristol and others (now known as red brick universities).[5] The term was later used to refer to universities gaining their status in the 1960s, such as the former colleges of advanced technology, which were converted to universities following the 1963 Robbins Report on higher education, and the plate glass universities, which were already in the process of being established at the time of the report.[1][6]


Following the 1992 Act, 33 polytechnics in England, the Derbyshire College of Higher Education, the Polytechnic of Wales and three Scottish central institutions were the first to be granted university status, alongside another trio of central institutions in the years following. Many of these Polytechnics had roots in the middle 19th Century. All the categories of university award their own academic degrees, but universities created in England and Wales since 2004 may only have the power to award taught degrees, because the power to award research degrees has been removed from the criteria for university title. The Cheltenham & Gloucester College of Higher Education, which became the University of Gloucestershire in 2001, was the only institute to become a university in England between the polytechnics in 1992 and the relaxation of the criteria in 2004. Two new universities have subsequently been established in Scotland, where the old criteria still apply: Queen Margaret University (2007), another former central institution, and the University of the Highlands and Islands (2011).

Post-1992 universities with polytechnic roots

Post-1992 universities with central institution roots

Post-1992 universities that are not former polytechnics or central institutions

Mergers of post-1992 and pre-1992 universities

These may not meet a strict definition of new universities as being universities under the 1992 act, but have elements of common heritage with new universities.

Secondary issues

Most former polytechnics welcomed the new nomenclature of "university" as evidence of the abolition of the hierarchical binary system of universities and polytechnics. The new title also assisted recruitment of foreign students (a lucrative market sector which was not always sure what a "polytechnic" was). However, since most former polytechnics were established from locally funded technical colleges, polytechnics were, like their predecessors, controlled by and answerable to local government. The adoption of university status severed that link with the community, creating universities as semi-autonomous bodies answerable only to central government. As a result of their roots under local government, most employees of those polytechnic post-1992 universities are members of the Teachers' Pension Scheme, rather than the Universities Superannuation Scheme.

See also


  1. ^ a b Catherine Armstrong (10 June 2008). "What is a University in the UK". Archived from the original on 13 May 2010. Retrieved 14 August 2017.
  2. ^ Anesa Hosein, Namrata Rao, Chloe Shu-Hua Yeh, Ian M. Kinchin (14 June 2018). Academics' International Teaching Journeys. Bloomsbury. p. 76. ISBN 9781474289795. In the UK, these institutions are referred to as a 'post-1992 university', 'modern university', or 'new university' (Read, Archer and Leathwood 2003: 263) established under the Further and Higher Education Act of 1992, expanding university provision in the UK. … While the Act of 1992 immediate awarded former polytechnics in the UK university status, post-1992 universities also include institutions that were not polytechnics, often colleges (in the UK sense) of HE((cite book)): CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  3. ^ The Anomalous Position of the University of London. Vol. 2. 19 July 1851. p. 64. We are now only seeking to contrast the general powers conferred on the old and on the new Universities ((cite book)): |work= ignored (help)
  4. ^ The Charitable Trusts Bill. Vol. 2. 27 August 1853. p. 193. the Solicitor General, by a piece of flimsy special pleading, endeavoured to establish a distinction between the cases of the old and the new Universities. ((cite book)): |work= ignored (help)
  5. ^ Herklots, H, 1928, The New Universities – an external examination, Ernest Benn, London
  6. ^ "Chapter IV: Institutions of higher education in Great Britain". Higher Education – Report of the Committee appointed by the Prime Minister under the Chairmanship of Lord Robbins. 1963. Archived from the original on 30 October 2013. Retrieved 31 March 2016.
  7. ^ "Our History". University of South Wales. Retrieved 17 October 2022.
  8. ^ "Our History". University of West London. Retrieved 17 October 2022.
  9. ^ "Our History". Retrieved 18 October 2022.