Anthony Crosland, in his notable 1965 Woolwich speech, laid out the Government's vision for a binary system of Higher Education within the UK: i.e. universities and polytechnics, where the latter would concentrate on high-level vocational skills.
He claimed that, whilst it is always sensible to build on what already exists if rapid expansion is to be achieved with limited resources, it is also important to offer an alternative channel to H.E. that is distinct from the established University system in a number of ways:
- Distinct in traditions that have been inherited from its precursors in the non-University sector;
- Distinct in the goals that are set;
- Distinct in its adaptability and responsiveness to social change;
- Distinct organisationally;
- Distinct in the kind of students that it attracts.
The City of London Polytechnic was formed in 1970 and was one of the first London-based Polytechnics to be so designated. It was formed from an amalgamation of the City of London College, the Sir John Cass College and the School of Navigation at Tower Hill. The institution was organised into 4 Schools:
- Sir John Cass School of Science and Technology;
- Sir John Cass School of Art;
- School of Navigation - nearly 60% of trained seamen (Master Mariners, etc) through this School;
- School of Business Studies.
In 1972 it became one of the first institutions in the country approved to run an interdisciplinary, modular degree. At the time of merger, there were 2000 full-time and 15,000 part-time students (the vast majority of the latter taking professional courses within the School of Business).
During the early 1980s, the decline in commodities and shipping markets affected courses offered by the Business School and led to a Government decision to rationalise nautical training nationwide, resulting in the closure of the Navigation School in 1984. During the late 1980s, a decline in Science numbers led to the transfer of such courses to other London-based Polytechnics.
In 1977 it took responsibility for the running of the Fawcett Library (subsequently renamed the Women's Library), the oldest established women's library in the UK (now under the auspices of the London School of Economics). It merged with the London College of Furniture in 1990. In 1992 the Polytechnic was granted university status and, with that, its own degree awarding powers and was renamed London Guildhall University.
In the summer of 2002, London Guildhall University merged with the University of North London to form London Metropolitan University.