New research by the World 100 Reputation Network shows that most universities are failing to fully exploit the opportunities for using strategic international partnerships to grow their global profile.

The Network surveyed leaders in international relations and communications at around top 80 universities in the top 200 of the global rankings; the full report, Riding the Tiger: Enhancing the role of reputation in international partnerships, is available to members of the W100 Network.

Riding the Tiger - Enhancing the role of reputation in international partnerships 2018-19

Partnerships between universities have become an increasingly important part of the global higher education landscape, with institutions increasingly seeking to develop strategic links with leading universities in other parts of the world.

Meanwhile, the role of reputation in driving institutional performance in areas such as staff and student recruitment and access to resources has increasingly been recognised, not least through the growth of university rankings.

However, the role that reputation plays in the formation of partnerships, and the contribution of those partnerships to building institutional profile in different parts of the world, has rarely been explored systematically.

The W100 research uncovered good examples of strategic international partnership development, but also found that universities need to work harder at using their strategic links to build global profile.

Universities are often not thinking strategically about how to use their international partnerships to develop their reputation in different parts of the world. Global communications strategies are not adequately factoring in the potential for international partnerships to provide the stories that bring the reputation of a university to life in key target countries.

So, how should a university go about enhancing reputation through the effective us of strategic international partnerships?

The W100, which represents leaders in communications, marketing and international at more than 50 top universities around the globe, has identified some key actions for communications and marketing teams and International Offices. 

  • Develop stronger working relationships between International Offices and Communications Offices
  • Ensure that partnerships are key elements of international communications strategies
  • Target a small number of strategic partnerships for promotion that link to the institutional strategy, e.g. through a focus on particularly countries or research priorities
  • Establish close working relationships between the communications teams of the partner universities
  • Develop stories about partnership benefit with a strong focus on the work of staff and students to bring the partnership to life

To access the full Riding the Tiger report, join the World 100 Reputation Network. In addition to an annual piece of bespoke research on a key issue relating to reputation, members receive a wide variety of benefits, including an annual conference, global media and social media monitoring and access to specialist training.