August 9, 1996

When the Robbins committee was appointed just one person in 17went into full-time higher education. Now it is nearly one in three. The Dearing committee has had an impressive list of issues referred to it for its advice. Although not an implicit task, perhaps the greatest responsibility of the Dearing committee is to establish key objectives that will carry forward the Robbins principles and serve higher education well until 2040. In current "managementspeak" Dearing has got to come up with a "mission statement" for higher education.

In an increasingly diverse system thetask of formulating a mission statement that can both guide and inspire higher education over the next 40 years is perhaps a more challenging task than that faced by Lord Robbins. Recently, the Committee of Vice Chancellors and Principals' committee on long-term strategy attempted to formulate such a "mission statement". The resultsof our collective endeavour, while comprehensive in their description ofhigher education, could not be regarded as inspiring. Perhaps this indicates all tooclearly that mission statements are not well drafted by committees.

To get the widest possible involvementin formulating the future aims and objectivesof higher education, The THES and the University of Central England are delightedto collaborate in a competition to produce a mission statement that will serve higher education well until 2040. The Mission Statement should be clear and concise,yet must lead and inspire. The rules for the competition are as follows:- 1. The statement should contain not more than 50 words.

2. Submissions should be addressed to the Editor, The Times Higher Education Supplement and should be received not later than September 30 1996.

3. Members of the CVCP and the Dearing committee are not eligible.

The prize will be a plaque inscribed withthe Statement, designed and manufactured by the Birmingham School of Jewellery at UCE. The winning statement will be forwarded to the Dearing committee andmay ensure, if not fame, at least some notoriety in the annals of higher education.


Vice chancellor of the University of Central England , Birmingham

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