Glasgow College of Technology was established in 1971, as a result of the merger of two proposed colleges of higher education, the College of Science and Technology and the College of Commerce (these proposed colleges were merged before the buildings were completed and the doors opened). In 1987 the Board of Governors agreed to change the name of the College to Glasgow College, mainly for advertising purposes, although for legal purposes the name remained Glasgow College of Technology. Several attempts were made to designate the College a polytechnic. It was proposed in 1971 and 1979 but it was not until 1 January 1991 that it became Glasgow Polytechnic. The new Polytechnic was officially launched on 1 May 1991. Following the Government’s White Paper ‘Higher Education: A New Framework’ in May 1991 the new institution saw their opportunity to become a University and to award their own degrees. Discussions were entered into with The Queen’s College, Glasgow with regards to a merger and the intention to merge was announced on 4 December 1991. In June 1992 Glasgow Polytechnic was granted full degree awarding powers and on 1 April 1993 it finally merged with The Queen’s College, Glasgow to form Glasgow Caledonian University. The institution’s premises were located on Cowcaddens Road, Glasgow in a purpose built complex, which at time of merger formed the main campus of Glasgow Caledonian University.
The original aim of the institution was to develop a higher level of academic training and to offer degrees validated by the Council for National Academic Awards (CNAA).
When Glasgow College of Technology opened in 1971, its syllabus was mainly made up of higher level transferred courses. Stow College of Engineering and The Central College of Commerce and Distribution were the two main institutions responsible for transferring teaching, and staff to these courses. Initially there were 12 departments at the new College, the flagship being the Optics Department. Others included Electrical Engineering, Mechanical and Civil Engineering, Biology, Computing, Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Business Administration, Law and Public Administration, Commerce, Management and Finance, Social Sciences and Humanities.
The first CNAA degree to be offered was in optics. Other courses on offer were diplomas and certificates validated by the Scottish Technical Education Council (SCOTEC) or the Scottish Business Education Council (SBEC). The Social Sciences and Humanities Departments both provided teaching towards London University degrees. The second CNAA degree was introduced in 1973, a BA in Social Sciences, and this was followed, in 1977, by a degree in nursing. A Department of Nursing Studies was established in 1980 and there was a clear commitment to development in this area.
In 1981 three faculties were established, Business and Administration Studies, Life and Social Sciences and Science and Engineering. This decade also saw a move to improve the standard of engineering education. By the early 1980s there was a CNAA validated BSc in Engineering and soon approval was given for a Bachelor of Engineering. The development of offering joint courses with neighbouring further education establishments also continued. In 1985 the full time courses on offer included 14 degrees, 12 higher diplomas and higher national diplomas. There were 7 other diplomas and professional courses such as those in nursing, over 50 part time courses, 2 of which were degrees - BSc in Mechanical Engineering and the BA in Social Sciences.
For session 1991/92 its student enrolment was 5,900 (FTE) and it was Scotland's second largest central institution. It was fully accredited for taught courses by the CNAA, offered SCOTVEC qualifications, and was committed to the principles of wider access and credit accumulation and transfer (CAT scheme). In June 1992 Glasgow Polytechnic was granted full degree awarding powers.
The College was established by Glasgow Corporation, which was its ultimate owner but did not play a direct role in its government. Although not a Scottish central institution until 1985, the Scottish Education Department (SED) had a much more direct bearing on the College’s academic life. The College's statutes corresponded fairly closely to the SED’s 1972 guidelines for the government of central institutions. The Board of Governors (Governing Council), in which originally the local authority was the predominant element, was responsible for the allocation of resources and staffing and the Academic Board dealt with the academic planning, implementation of quality control and academic affairs. In 1975 control of the College was transferred from Glasgow Corporation to the newly formed Strathclyde Regional Council. At this time the Governing Council became the College Council. In 1985 the College became a Scottish central institution and the College Council became the Governing Body. Although the composition and membership changed, the Governing Body and Academic Board remained in place until the merger with The Queen’s College, Glasgow.
The Directors/Principals of the College between 1971 and 1993 were Dr Reginald Beale 1971-1982; Dr Norman Meadows 1982-1988; and Dr J. S. Mason (Stan Mason) 1988-1993.