In 1994, the higher education entry system of the UK was changed significantly. Up until then, there had been two streams of HE. The academic stream consisted of universities, with entry through the UCCA system. Polytechnic Colleges offered more vocational courses, and entry was through PCAS.
The change was to merge the two systems, forming the combined 'UCAS' entry system. The cause of this merge was due to another change, which had been taking place since 1992: polytechnic colleges were being upgraded and renamed as universities. Many towns and cities now had one of each, and the ex-polytechnic therefore gained a more creative name, rather than simply taking the name of its host city.
Examples include Nottingham Trent University, DeMontfort University (Leicester amongst other campuses), Oxford Brookes University and Sheffield Hallam University.
Polyversity is a derogatory term, for the 'new' (or ex-polytechnic) universities; seen by the 'real' universities as imposters with lower standards. It is also used as an satirical term when generating a ficticious establishment - the word was possibly coined by the comic Viz , in which Student Grant attended Fulchester Polyversity, and a beautiful combined irony can be seen in:
"Here at the McDerbyshire Polyversity of Advanced Studies, a high -profile
research programme by our Institute of Student Fad Studies has revealed
several interesting points, outlined below."
As time goes by, the stigma attached to polyversity degrees is lessening - but still very much present at the start of the 21st century.