New Philosopher

Does having a purpose in life make us happy?

Before John Major’s government converted Britain’s erstwhile polytechnics into universities in the 1990s, higher education in Britain was strictly a two-tier affair. Universities, channelling the now-distant model of Grecian gymnasia – still snooty about classics and the liberal arts – admitted students keen to study ‘for the sake of studying’. Polytechnics, home traditionally to the nation’s engineering schools, were ranked beneath, sullied with the taint of practical utility.

Over the 20th century ‘Polys’ morphed and modernised to offer courses in art and design technology, fashion, journalism, filmmaking, and more. Yet still, those judged to be ‘university material’ were shunted up into ivory towers from wherewas by the by.

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