Rich vision, pretty pattern (1 of 2)

January 26, 2012

The anonymous writer of "Poverty of vision pays well" (Letters, 19 January) underestimates the depth of each vice-chancellor's vision, which today far exceeds a mere preoccupation with league tables.

Our comprehensive analysis of the language of university mission statements from Russell Group, 1994 Group and Million+ institutions indicates that the average vice-chancellor rejoices in a vocabulary that extends to 25 nouns, sometimes modified by a selection of up to 12 different adjectives. This reveals a vision of "excellence", "quality" and "impact", which is usually "internationally significant", "leading edge" and "top".

Only the Russell Group vice-chancellors are confident enough to embellish their claims with ordinal rankings, while their Million+ peers are content to indicate their aspirations with the comparative "higher" and the adjective "potential".

Commendations go to Don Nutbeam of the University of Southampton for a rare concern for "academic freedom" and several mentions of "intellectual".

Liz Morrish, Nottingham Trent University.

Helen Sauntson, University of Birmingham

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