UK: Universities risk aggressive marketing

Until recently, Britain's University of Kent prided itself on its friendly image. Not any more. Over the past few months it has been working hard, with the help of media consultants, to downplay its cosy reputation in favour of something more academic and serious, writes Harriet Swain for the Guardian.

Kent is not alone in considering an image revamp. Changes to next year's funding regime are both forcing universities to justify charging students up to £9,000 in fees, and increasing competition for students with AAB or above at A-level, which is putting institutions under pressure to argue they offer something better than the rest.

Paul Starkey, research director of Heist, a higher education marketing consultancy, which for the first time this year will include an award for a corporate campaign in its annual awards, says: "We are starting to see universities putting much more of a focus on their brands and what their value propositions are, and there has been a move in the last six months or so at looking at refining those brands, particularly for the undergraduate market."
Full report on the Guardian site