Playing to hype

October 8, 2015

Reading Michelle Morgan’s letter made me think about those naive shopper-undergraduates and the role of guides and ranking tables as they make their otherwise uninformed choice (“Marketing failures”, Letters, 1 October).

I am not a shopper, but I read the Good University Guide and the Times Higher Education World University Rankings to see what is happening to places where I previously worked, including the University of Stirling. I had to laugh when I saw that most of Stirling’s marketing in the Guide concerned its campus, located in a park around an artificial lake. Great stuff, but more TripAdvisor than serious: looking at the figures, it sits towards 400 in the World University Rankings, about 45th in the UK listings and sixth to eighth in Scotland depending on the ranking scheme. Not the worst performing of the small provincial universities, and nowhere near what I thought it could achieve when, against some ageing resistance, I adopted the motto “Innovation and Excellence” – which is still in use – for its 25th anniversary in 1992: the optimism of (relative) youth.

I cannot believe that any aspiring student or parent can be so naive as to be swayed these days by a few birds, trees and the odd boat. No doubt readers can find other examples of hype, but for me Stirling takes first prize.

Dennis Farrington
Deputy secretary (1986-2004)
University of Stirling


Send to

Letters should be sent to: THE.Letters@tesglobal.com

Letters for publication in Times Higher Education should arrive by 9am Monday. View terms and conditions.

You've reached your article limit

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 6 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Most Commented

question marks PhD study

Selecting the right doctorate is crucial for success. Robert MacIntosh and Kevin O'Gorman share top 10 tips on how to pick a PhD

India, UK, flag

Sir Keith Burnett reflects on what he learned about international students while in India with the UK prime minister

Pencil lying on open diary

Requesting a log of daily activity means that trust between the institution and the scholar has broken down, says Toby Miller

Application for graduate job
Universities producing the most employable graduates have been ranked by companies around the world in the Global University Employability Ranking 2016
Retired academics calculating moves while playing bowls

Lincoln Allison, Eric Thomas and Richard Larschan reflect on the ‘next phase’ of the scholarly life