The World 100 Reputation Network continues to grow apace. This year, it has seen the Universities of Erasmus Rotterdam, Western Australia, Monash and Bristol join the group, which now numbers 16 top universities. The original members, including UCL, King’s, and Warwick, were brought together by Louise Simpson, herself a former director of communications for Cambridge University and now director of Higher Education consultancy, The Knowledge Partnership. “We thought it would be interesting to create a network that looked beyond national boundaries and gave the top corporate affairs people in universities a way of easily networking with overseas institutions of similar ranking. We aren’t pro any one particular world ranking, but this just gives us a way of agreeing a membership without being partisan”.

Reasons for joining are not hard to fathom. Universities are keen to find ways of connecting with international universities that occupy similar research intensive reputations, and are not content to run solely with their national mission groups, where identities are often hard to distinguish. Alliances are also more useful with universities in other countries, as we move further into the mode of real global undertakings rather than the old memoranda of understanding, which usually involved the exchange of lacquered boxes and little else. For professional directors of communications and international relations, there is also more willingness to share best practice, since on the whole these leading world class universities are not trying to attract the same undergraduate students.

The group is also research based, and pushes to extend the understanding of reputation, brand and rankings as professional university skill. The high profile World 100 conference in Washington has been one of the main catalysts for universities joining the group. This year it has attracted speakers from Cornell, Helsinki and NUS and the best of the HE press. The other prompt has been the group’s published researched. One university joined with the express purpose of accessing the group’s latest 100 page study into the motivators and reputational drivers for career mobile internationally leading academics. This was covered in the Times Higher Education 8-14 March.

The network was also mentioned again in the Times Higher special reputational survey, 15-21 March, when director Louise Simpson wrote an opinion piece about Reputation and League Tables, reminding us that rankings will “both shape and reflect university standings, and in a sector where institutions continue to shy away from true distinctiveness and focus, they will act as invaluable proxies” for reputation. Read the full article here.