The rationale for the name GuildHE was to emphasise the importance to our members of “collective endeavour, mutual aid and shared vision”. The use of a sub strapline in the logo “Distinction Diversity” was “to increase awareness of the distinctive contribution made by our members to UK higher education.” The key objective should be that GuildHE is seen to be an HE focused organisation that is worth being part of, one that has something worthwhile to say, and one that is worth listening to.
The brand encapsulates the sense of common purpose, mutual support and shared commitment to excellence that characterises existing members. The concept of a “Guild” fits this purpose and carries a range of useful connotations on community; quality, professions, heritage and aspects of standards maintenance. The “HE” at the end of the name recognises that our members are clearly located in the higher education sector whilst moving away from the previous emphasis on Higher Education Colleges in contrast to HE universities. The new name also reflects that the membership base has diversified and now includes many HEIs with degree awarding powers – both universities and university colleges, some highly specialized, as well as colleges of HE and potentially some specialist FECs.
Many member institutions share key characteristics, specialist mission or subject focus, being smaller than the average university in the UK but including some major providers in professional subject areas including art & design, music & the performing arts; agriculture; education, health and sports. Within GuildHE are a number of older HEIs with their roots in Victorian philanthropy and interest in education and crafts. These include specialist institutions and those founded by the churches. These sources of inspiration have an impact on the interest in values and social justice visible within GuildHE as a whole and inform its positions on inclusion and support for difference. This ethos is supported by government and funding council positions, confirming that it is important to maintain diversity and the specialist focus of some institutions within the sector and that there should be a target of parity of esteem. The concept of “Diversity and Distinction” is fundamental to the work of GuildHE. We would want to argue that, in some senses, this is more accurate about GuildHE members than for other HEIs in the sector: each GuildHE member is genuinely a unique institution. There is a strong desire to maintain that range of special labels and the position that many of the smaller HEIs have secured of being pre-eminent in their fields and high achievers in many of the measures which align to their missions.