1994? That's so last century

Body aims to lose 'unhelpful' name and recruit new members abroad. John Morgan reports

July 26, 2012

Credit: Getty
1994: Tony Blair became Labour leader and the mission group was founded

Reasons for the 1994 Group to retain its moniker weaken with the passage of time - unless its vice-chancellors still rejoice in the year Tony Blair was elected Labour leader and Wet Wet Wet spent 15 weeks at number one in the singles chart with Love Is All Around.

It makes sense, then, that the group of 15 smaller research-intensive universities is planning to change its name as part of a strategic review that is now under way and is expected to conclude in the next six to eight months.

After four members announced their plans to defect to the Russell Group, the 1994 Group is also thought to be considering admitting new members from outside the UK.

With the name change and the review in the pipeline, is the 1994 Group seeking to establish itself as a "brand" recognised beyond the sector by prospective students?

Asked about a name change, Alex Bols, who became executive director of the 1994 Group last month, said the group is "looking at all the options. Personally, for me, the name isn't completely helpful."

The new name should "reach beyond the higher education sector" and "communicate the message we are saying about what it is to be a 1994 Group institution", he said, adding that the "human scale" of the universities was part of what defined their character. "We are in a strong position moving into the new landscape of being able to...position ourselves very strongly as a place where the academic and research community will come together and you as an individual [student] will be able to reach your potential," Mr Bols said.

Some in the sector question whether there is any value in projecting a stronger brand and whether leading 1994 Group members such as the University of St Andrews would wish to associate themselves with that rather than continuing to rely on their own image for marketing.

In terms of shaping government policy, Mr Bols said the 1994 Group was the first "to champion the move from AAB to ABB", referring to the A-level grades above which universities can recruit unlimited numbers of students. It has also successfully pressed for greater research concentration, he added.

He highlighted the next government spending review and the future of the science funding ring-fence as crucial areas of focus for the group.

On the further relaxation of student number controls, Mr Bols said it was "important to provide the evidence to government that we are then able to continue that progression to the next step of BBB".


Please login or register to read this article

Register to continue

Get a month's unlimited access to THE content online. Just register and complete your career summary.

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 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

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments