What's behind the label

March 13, 2008

Robert Mighall confuses a university's reputation with its "brand" ("The substance behind the image", 6 March). It's not surprising that those with a living to make in this area are untroubled by this confusion, as not even the most credulous university management is likely to believe that consultants can do much about the long-term developments on which their institution's reputation essentially depends.

Mighall's own example makes the point neatly: his reception was different when it was known that he was from "a prestigious Oxford college" rather than from Lampeter.

This is not surprising: Oxford is on most measures one of the best universities in the world while Lampeter is not. The reasons why Oxford is what it is are many and complex, but we can be sure that hiring smarter branding consultants is not among them.

Paul Temple, Centre for Higher Education Studies, Institute of Education University of London.

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