IT is 25 years since Bournemouth became a university town.

After just two years as a polytechnic, the former Dorset Institute of Higher Education was a fully-fledged university.

John Major’s government had ended the divide between universities and polys – the higher education institutions that had originally focused on technical and vocational subjects.

Bournemouth’s first seat of higher education had existed at Talbot Village since the early 1970s, with the creation of Bournemouth College of Technology.

It became Dorset Institute of Higher Education in 1976, known for a range of vocational courses from film and TV production to catering. Recognition as a polytechnic came in 1990.

An inauguration ceremony for the new Bournemouth University happened at the BIC on November 27, 1992, with Baroness Cox installed as chancellor.

She spoke of the institution’s “meteoric rise” and its success in already allowing more people to study in the town than ever before.

“I am certain that the new university will build on firm foundations laid in recent years and will develop its own distinctive contribution to higher education,” she said.

The university’s first honorary doctorates were awarded that day, to Sir Thomas Lees, chairman of Talbot Village Trust; Andrew Litton, then principal conductor of Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra; and industrialist Kenneth Coates.

Today, the university has more than 18,000 students and 2,000 staff. As well as the Talbot Campus, it has extensive teaching facilities in the Lansdowne area.

Countless graduates have left a mark on their profession, from successful chefs to visual effects artists such as Mark Ardington, Oscar-winner for Ex Machina.

And a long list of honorary graduates include human rights lawyer Clive Stafford Smith, broadcasters Kate Adie, Mark Austin, Allan Little and Alice Roberts; TV director Peter Kosminsky; actor Martin Clunes; musicians Alex James of Blur and Andy Summers of the Police; conductor Marin Alsop; AFC Bournemouth chairman Jeff Mostyn; Olympian Liz Yelling and Paralympian Darren Kenny.

The university, meanwhile, has been estimated to be worth £1million a day to the local economy.