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ERIC Number: EJ987240
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2012-Sep
Pages: 5
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0748-478X
No Longer Faces in the Crowd
Myers, Anna
CURRENTS, v38 n7 p24-25, 27-29 Sep 2012
Being distinctive has not always been critical for universities in the U.K. Until recently, significant economic and political forces--largely public funding and regulation--had pushed higher education institutions as a whole toward homogeneity. What is distinctiveness? For some, it's synonymous with being unique. What makes an organization distinctive is fundamentally its mission and strategy. Define what the institution wants to accomplish and excels at and one will uncover its distinctiveness. Being distinctive is not an end in itself. It gives students a reason to choose a university, yes. But being distinctive is about delivering what the institution has promised and ensuring that what it does and says contributes to its strategic goals. It's unlikely that an institution will have just one special thing that makes it distinctive. It's much more likely there will be a combination of factors, such as courses, location, and institutional personality. The whole process of establishing distinctiveness is not an easy or quick exercise; reputations are longstanding, and embedding change takes time. However, some of the most successful examples involve intelligent leaps, either a great insight into an organization based on data or perhaps new compelling communications that encapsulate big ideas. Distinctiveness must be real because universities are comprised of intelligent people who can see through unsubstantiated claims. Social media is reducing message control, so if an institution doesn't deliver or "make it real," the discrepancy ultimately will be exposed. Distinctiveness also must be rare because if another institution can easily replicate a position, it loses its advantage. And finally, it must be relevant because there is little point in highlighting qualities that do not matter.
Council for Advancement and Support of Education. 1307 New York Avenue NW Suite 1000, Washington, DC 20005. Tel: 202-328-2273; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: United Kingdom