As part of its on-going mission to raise the profile of reputation management across global HE, the W100 was well-represented at the HSE conference 2019 in Russia, where universities are waking up to the importance of building profile strategically.

Boldly titled ‘Reputation Beyond the Rankings,’ the conference hosted by the Higher School of Economics St Petersburg brought together rectors and other senior colleagues from universities across Russia and the former Soviet republics along with a range of international speakers.

Contributions on reputation strategy and differentiation were delivered by W100 members from the universities of Manchester, Navarra, Helsinki and Warwick; and the Network was prominent in the dialogue about the need to find new ways of measuring reputation.

The Russian HE system is facing some interesting challenges. The number of universities exploded after the fall of the USSR, but the Government is now taking a more interventionist approach with a strong focus on supporting the highest quality institutions through its 5-100 programme.

The ranking organisations have been seeking to engage with Russian universities but the structures of many institutions – most are regional and non-comprehensive, focusing on areas of specialism – means that they are always likely to struggle under the prevailing rankings methodologies. Lomonosov Moscow State University is the sole Russian entry in the top 200 currently, although HSE is rising fast in the young universities tables.

So Russian institutions are interested in looking at a more holistic view of reputation, as evidenced by a session at the conference where Rectors discussed their challenges with W100 member universities.

There was genuine engagement and enthusiasm from Russian university leaders in the potential for embedding reputation management in institutional strategy, engaging with stakeholders to build profile consistently, and developing more proactive communications strategies.

We hope to have further engagement from Russia in the network, and the HSE conference 2019 highlighted the benefits of measuring reputation more holistically which the W100 International tracker concept (to be piloted with W100 members next year) will take forward.