I’m not a fan of rankings. I’ve been grumpy about them since 1993, but I recognise that, in the UK, in order to have a trade paper, and a pretty good one, they need to earn a buck. They’ve had their big launch this week and all very well choreographed it was too (spoilt only by the Independent whose basic journalistic competence is so badly compromised they can’t understand the concept of an embargo any more).
I’m enjoying the big glossy booklet with the rankings in it – but perhaps not for the reasons intended. In 2017 it is now officially twice as big as the magazine (154 pages vs 72 pages). There’s lots of lovely content in the rankings guide, I’m sure, but I’ve been captivated by the advertising. I’ve always wondered about the very general advertising that some universities place in THE; it’s often positioning statements, rather than actually advertising courses or jobs. I wonder if they think that the people who fill in the reputation surveys will remember Manipal University next time, or that we’ll be beating a path to East China Normal University next time we want a partner in Shanghai.
I first spotted the galactic theme. There are several universities who’ve put their messaging against a star-filled sky. The imagery is obvious, CUHK sum it up nicely – ‘Reach for the Stars – a galaxy of leading scholars and educators – soar with us’ We might be a global university (CUHK is 58th this year) but go beyond this to the stars.
But, even dull sublunary types, you start reading the slogans. There have been some great pieces done with slogans – for example Liz Morrish on the Russell Group or the American version. I can’t offer poetry, just replication. These are all in large font size in the advertising featured in the THE World University Rankings Booklet
Asian insight. Global outlook.
A World-class university in an incredible city
Asia’s Global University
A different gaze
The Chinese University for Global Leadership
The World needs New
Not just another university
From here, you could go anywhere
Challenging convention, saying ahead of the curve
Seeking Truth and Pursuing Innovation
Passionately inspiring the minds of tomorrow
Learn today Lead Tomorrow
Knowledge Pioneers at the heart of Europe
The University for a Changing World
Your Global Future Starts Here
Make a world of difference in a world of differences
Start Here. Go Anywhere
A university for the real world
Where innovation is a mantra and collaboration, an art
Progress doesn’t accept answers. It questions them.
Never Stop Advancing
We think in terms of possibilities instead of limitations
Gold Award for Outstanding Teaching
Note that the English university who’ve gone with their TEF award rather than something inspirational come towards the end of the booklet. Although it’s easy to scoff, actually the litany of aspirations does capture something of the extraordinary nature of our universities. Under attack all summer, maybe we should be proud of what we do, not just focused on two universities, but how the thousand universities that Phil Baty has plonked in his ranking do so much, and how the thousands of universities beyond the glossy booklet do so much too.