Opinion: From our readers - Higher education in a competitive market

These are challenging times for higher education. Lord Browne's report on tuition fees and the Government's Comprehensive Spending Review are likely to tighten university purse strings.

The key challenge for PR practitioners across the sector will be disguised as doing more for less - but the devil in the detail will be about doing less with less.

The sector will need experienced practitioners to win the confidence of the vice-chancellor's inner circle. Universities will need comms teams that are led by professionals who know what to prioritise and what to park.

I started in my post on the same day as the University of East London's new vice-chancellor. His first decisive act was to route all media through the press office. He has never taken a red pen to a press release - despite being editor of the student newspaper when he studied at Oxford - and within six months we helped him to consult on, publish and launch his university strategy.

There is no question that universities are still coming to terms with the corporate ramifications of stakeholders as consumers in a competitive global market.

The proof that the comms team understands and influences the strategic direction of the organisation comes when, despite an uncertain economic climate, the person at the very top uses the stories we are selling to promote his vision of where we will be in ten years.

Sara Hazzard, head of comms and PR, University of East London.

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