When the boasts come in

September 8, 2011

Jeremy Black deplores the grandiose claims routinely made by academic book blurbs ("Greatest story ever told", 1 September), but this is just one instance of the boasting that now echoes through so much of the sector.

Witness the claims made by institutions in the appointments pages of the same issue of THE: "the most innovative university in Scotland" (University of Stirling); "the leading post-'92 research institution" (University of Hertfordshire); "a top 10 UK university and in the top 125 universities in the world" (Lancaster University); "consistently ranked among the top 10 UK higher education institutions" (University of Exeter); "one of the UK's leading research universities and among the top 100 ... in the world" (University of Southampton); and so on.

The claim to true distinction may soon lie in being mediocre. Sic itur ad Poppleton!

Jim Shields, School of Languages and Social Sciences, Aston University

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