Glasgow hears its gloss is gone

April 29, 2005

Glasgow University's reputation has been damaged locally, nationally and internationally, consultants have reported, writes Anna Fazackerley.

The university employed a consultancy firm last year to assess how it was perceived. A summary of its final report, obtained by The Times Higher under the Freedom of Information Act, warns that the university's reputation has been "eroded" in recent years.

"The perception is that the university has lost ground at all levels - internationally, at a UK level, in Scotland and even in Glasgow," the consultants say.

Interviewees were all aware that Glasgow saw itself as a major player in the research world, but the consultants found that they were unsure about where the institution's particular academic strengths lay.

The review, carried out by Christow Consultants between January and November last year, concludes that the university fails to appreciate the true scale of the threats facing it.

It warns that the university will fall behind as a result of initiatives by competitors if it does not urgently begin to build its market position and improve its reputation.

A spokeswoman for Glasgow said this week that the university was pleased that it had conducted the audit. She said: "We expected some challenging findings, and we welcomed the report, which allowed us 'to see ourselves as others see us' (as Scottish poet Robert Burns said)."

She said the institution was seeking to build its profile by concentrating on media relations, internal communications and public affairs. Interviews are under way to recruit a new director of corporate communications.

The spokeswoman added: "In a major consultative exercise, we have been reviewing the future shape of the university. The intended outcomes include definition of our aspirations: what sort of university we want to become over the next five to ten years and what sort of decisions will set us in the right direction to attain those aspirations."

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