Now you CMU it, now you don't

May 21, 2004

Academics love a good acronym. It is that little string of capital letters that makes an organisation feel weighty: Hefce, UUK, Natfhe, Birps (the British Institutions Reflection Profiling Syndicate at Cambridge University if you have to ask). So we can understand the storm in certain vice-chancellors' teacups over the naming of the new universities' lobby group, CMU. The Coalition of Modern Universities title was apparently proving something of a turn-off for vice-chancellors of some of the former polytechnics. We might be modern universities, they grumbled, but there is no need to make a song and dance about it. So the CMU became Campaigning for Mainstream Universities. Or rather, it didn't. Just as we were getting used to the new name it has emerged that the CMU has decided to take a leaf out of the artist formerly known as Prince's book. The official line is that Campaigning For Mainstream Universities is simply a handy catchphrase and that CMU doesn't stand for anything. Ingenious.

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