Alliance universities are all excellent global institutions, but they are often better understood and recognised for their excellence in many global markets than they are in our own domestic context.
Yes we all have deep roots in our cities and regions, recognised for our massive economic and social contribution. But in the UK our strengths do not always shine through in the national public consciousness.
Everywhere else in the world our universities would be recognised as part of an elite group of highly regarded technological universities that sit alongside the traditional research-intensives. The Australian Technology Network of universities, who the University Alliance are partnered with, sit prominently alongside the Group of 8 (the Australian Russell Group equivalent) as a positive alternative choice to the more traditional university. Similarly there is a prestigious group of technological universities in the States such as MIT or CalTech, there are the Indian Institutes of Technology, and the many other elite technological institutions in HE sectors around the world. For all sorts of reasons, and largely because of the problem we have with the term ‘technical’ or even ‘technology’ in this country, we do not have such a group here in the UK. But we could, and in my view we should.
This has already become how Alliance universities market themselves abroad. Now is our time to collectively challenge the market in the UK. Traditional universities do not have the monopoly on all the leading courses and research in the UK.
I believe we need to adopt a profile that boldly identifies Alliance universities as Global Technology Universities, specializing in technology, applied science, design and the professions. We need to take ownership of this gap in the market.
This was the view I shared at the University Alliance Summit held at University of Greenwich today. There was significant energy around this idea and the benefits this positioning would bring for our universities and the students and publics that we serve.
We are being ambitious as we set out a vision for the next few years, where University Alliance is not just recognised as a strong, leading voice for our universities but as a group of outstanding universities that offer an excellent and ‘first choice’ alternative in the global market.