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Thames Polytechnic

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 2121 Thames Polytechnic
Held at: University of Greenwich
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Full title: Thames Polytechnic
Date(s): 1969-1996
Level of description: Collection (fonds)
Extent: approximately 26 linear metres
Name of creator(s): Thames Polytechnic


Administrative/Biographical history:

Thames Polytechnic was designated on 1 May 1970 as a result of the government's White Paper A Plan for Polytechnics and Other Colleges, published in 1966. This outlined the arrangements for implementing the government's policy for a dual system of higher education, divided by the binary line, first outlined by Anthony Crosland, Secretary of State for Education, in a speech at Woolwich Polytechnic in 1965. The polytechnics in the public sector would provide vocational, professional and industrially-based courses, some for degrees awarded by the Council of National Academic Awards (CNAA), some at sub-degree level, and some to provide a second chance for those who had missed the opportunity for further education on leaving school.

In 1968 three departments of Hammersmith College of Art and Building, Architecture, Landscape Architecture and Surveying had amalgamated with Woolwich Polytechnic, and the institution became Thames Polytechnic in 1970. During the 1970s Thames concentrated on the teaching of a wide range of subjects at an advanced level, although unlike universities was unable to grant its own degrees. These were awarded by the CNAA for courses which required CNAA approval, and were reviewed by a peer group drawn from industry and other polytechnics and universities. Many students took sandwich courses, and several CNAA courses were vocational in nature.

Dartford College, a teacher training college which had been founded in and specialised in training women sport and gymnastics teachers, amalgamated with Thames Polytechnic on 1 August 1976. The amalgamation was the result of government policy for reorganising teacher training colleges, set out in a White Paper in 1972 Education: A Framework for Expansion, which aimed to reduce the numbers of students training as teachers and required smaller training colleges to form closer associations with other institutions or expand their course range. Teacher training at Dartford was restructured to form the Faculty of Education and Movement Studies, but by 1979 the PE course for women teachers of sports and gymnastics was closed and by 1986 teacher training at Dartford had ceased. The Department of Landscape Architecture, previously part of Hammersmith Polytechnic, was moved to the Dartford campus in 1979, and was followed two years later by Architecture, Civil Engineering and in 1985 by the School of Surveying, creating a Faculty of the Built Environment.

During 1980-1 there was a gradual introduction of a modular scheme at Thames Polytechnic, offering a limited number of study units to be selected by students relating to their core subject, eventually becoming known as credit accumulation. The separation of full-time, part-time and sandwich students was abandoned, and by 1983-4 nearly every course admitted part-time students. Thames also aimed to increase the number of students, and in 1979-80 over 1000 first year students were recruited, the highest ever number, and recruitment for engineering, mathematics and science courses was high, against national trends.

Avery Hill College of Education, a teacher training college for women established in 1906, merged with Thames Polytechnic in 1985. Avery Hill had resisted plans for mergers and retained its independence for several years, but in line with the Inner London Education Authority's proposals and a general review of Advanced Further Education the idea of amalgamation was again raised in 1983. Thames was keen on the merger as an opportunity to improve the polytechnic's chances of becoming a university. On the merger Avery Hill became Thames Polytechnic's Faculty of Education and Community Studies.

Thames Polytechnic continued its programme of expansion by merging with Garnett College, a training college for technical teachers at Roehampton established in 1946, in 1986. With a student-staff ratio of 8 to 1 the college was considered expensive to maintain, and by 1985 the Inner London Education Authority was encouraging Garnett to merge. Thames Polytechnic was among the many institutions who had approached Garnett College with a view to merging, including South Bank Polytechnic and Roehampton Institute. With the support of the Inner London Education Authority, a merger with Thames Polytechnic was negotiated in 1986. Garnett became a new faculty of the polytechnic and then the School of Post-Compulsory Education and Training. By 1990 all the students from Garnett College had been moved to Thames Polytechnic's Avery Hill site and a new site at Wapping, and the two education faculties of the polytechnic were integrated to become one Faculty of Education.

In 1989 the science departments of the City of London Polytechnic and Goldsmiths' College were also transferred to Thames Polytechnic. Goldsmiths' had become a School of the University of London in 1988, and this was partly dependent on Goldsmiths' disposing of its science work. The City of London Polytechnic had found the numbers of students recruited to its science courses dropping and the courses became an economic liability. Thames acquired Goldsmiths' Deptford campus and City's Shadwell campus through the merger, as well as a new School of Earth Sciences from the geology departments of City and Goldsmiths'. Goldsmiths' former campus in Deptford, the Rachel McMillan buildings, was taken over by the School of Environmental Sciences in 1988-9.

In 1990 West Kent College at Tonbridge became an Associated College to Thames Polytechnic, as Thames aimed to increase higher and further education opportunities for the local community. Successful students at West Kent were to be guaranteed places at Thames and programmes of a Higher National Diploma Course in Business Studies and Finance at West Kent were validated by Thames. In 1991 parts of South West London College were transferred to Thames Polytechnic when the College was dissolved after initially seeking a merger with Thames. The transfer of staff and students enabled Thames to set up a law school within the Faculty of Business, with law degree courses at Avery Hill and business administration courses at Roehampton.

The Education Reform Act of 1988 had removed polytechnics from the control of local authorities and transferred their funding to a new body, the Polytechnics and Colleges Funding Council (PCFC). PCFC was replaced in 1992 when the Higher and Further Education Act created a single Higher Education Funding Council, removing any remaining distinctions between polytechnics and universities. Subsequently Thames Polytechnic became the University of Greenwich in 1992. Plans for the merger of Thames Polytechnic with Thames College of Health Care Studies, itself a merger of three local nursing and midwifery training schools, began in the late 1980s as a result of the Department of Health's objective to overhaul the training of nurses, midwives and health visitors by increasing the academic content of training. The College officially merged with the newly designated University of Greenwich on 1 January 1993, becoming a full faculty of the University.


Scope and content/abstract:

Records of Thames Polytechnic, 1971-1992, comprising minutes and papers of the Court of Governors, 1977-1982; Finance and General Purposes Committee, 1970-1984; meetings of the Academic Council, 1977-1982; Committee for Institutions, 1981-1982; staff and student affairs standing committee, 1978-1980; Education and Movement Studies faculty board, 1978-1980; Architecture and Surveying faculty board, 1977-1980; Prizes, Awards and Examinations Committee, 1977-[1980]; papers submitted to the Court of Governors, 1970-1992; Memoranda and articles of association, 1970; reports and financial statements, 1974-1975, 1983-1992; block grant files, 1971-1989; papers relating to mergers with Dartford College of Education, [1975-1976] and Avery Hill College, [1983-1985]; changeover from Polytechnic to University status, [1990-1992];

calendar and staff lists, 1979-1990; staff handbooks, [1971-1990]; Governing Body handbooks, 1971-1992;

magazines and newspapers of Thames Polytechnic, comprising Thames Polytechnic Staff Journal, 1970-1971; Thames Polytechnic TP Bulletin, 1971-1978; Thames Currents, 1978-1985; Thames News, 1985-1987; Thames View, 1987-1992; Thameslink, Newsletter for Teachers & Advisors of Entrants to Higher Education, 1992; Alumni magazines, comprising TPA News, 1980-1985; Thames View Alumni Special, 1990; Alumni magazines, 1994-1996;

photographs of Directors of the Polytechnic, 1970-1992; of presentations, [1970-1992]; staff cricket matches, [1970-1992]; Chairmen of Governing Body, 1970-1992; photographic material used for Traditions & Controls in the making of a Polytechnic: Woolwich Polytechnic 1890-1970 by Michael Locke, 1978;

prospectuses, 1970-1993; annual reports, 1969-[1991]; research reports, 1971-1992; programmes of presentation ceremonies, [1970-1992]; annual lectures, 1971-1981; Public Relations files, containing publicity material and advertisements, press releases, 1981-1992; press cuttings, 1970-1992; Christmas cards, [1970-1992];

Students' Union magazines, 1971-1975, comprising copies of Biffo, 1971; Crusty, 1975; Links, undated; papers relating to Thames Film Festivals; Students' Union handbooks, 1970-1991;

students' theses and dissertations, 1970-1989.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

The collection is unsorted.

Conditions governing access:

Researchers wishing to consult the archives should contact Ann Murphy, Head of Information Services, University of Greenwich

Conditions governing reproduction:

Photocopying is permitted at the discretion of the Librarian.

Finding aids:

A basic list is available at the University of Greenwich Woolwich campus.

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Created in the course of business.

Allied Materials

Related material:

Badges, trophies and uniforms relating to Thames Polytechnic, records of Woolwich Polytechnic, 1891-1973, University of Greenwich, 1991-2002, and South West London College, 1988-1991, are held by University of Greenwich Archives.

Records of the City of London Polytechnic, 1966-1986, are held by London Guildhall University. Records of Goldsmiths' College, [1896-2001], are held by Goldsmiths' College Archives.

National Register of Archives: Click here to view NRA record

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:
Sources: An Illustrated History of the University of Greenwich Thomas Hinde (University of Greenwich, 1996). Compiled by Julie Tancell as part of the RSLP AIM25 project.

Rules or conventions:
Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal Place and Corporate Names 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions:
July 2002

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