Diversity and Distinctiveness
How far is GuildHE diverse and distinctive?
All GuildHE members are part of the UK’s higher education provider community and subscribe to the maintenance of those same core academic values in teaching, research, subject development, knowledge transfer and support the good order of its infrastructure. GuildHE has taken its logo strapline to read “distinction and diversity”. It argues for the maintenance of a sector where small and large institutions have a place; a structure where specialists and generalists can thrive in a broader market place and in a national and international academic community. It looks to support HEIs and other HE providers that are in locations where there have been, and perhaps still are, limits on access. There is some competition between members but, with geographical and subject differences and the specific search for their voices and brand distinctiveness, there is a greater opportunity for mutual help and support as critical friends, to share practices between members and the staff in their institutions.
How far is GuildHE homogenous?
Are there particular features of a GuildHE institution? Articulating what characterises this group of institutions in a way that members will want to subscribe to a GuildHE “label” ( and be proud of it) challenges the strap line of “diversity and distinction”. There is a set of values and aspirations with which members can be sufficiently comfortable and have mission alignment. Any future members would need to check their own calibration with these positions. In the apparent segmentation of HE, some universities and specialist institutes mark themselves out as research-led and others as business-facing. While the features below do mean GuildHE institutions see themselves as having common character and can associate together, each educational provider, is somewhat atypical of the bulk of the larger universities or colleges, with unique focuses and a particularly recognisable mix of characteristics. In the future with a stronger market context they will want to develop that distinctive brand position of their own and have GuildHE support it. Our expectation would be that 75% of the features below, however, would be true for every GuildHE University, University College, Specialist Institution or HEI. As GuildHE articulates this more clearly we want it to encourage others who are of similar mind to work with us.
Such HE educational providers, in no particular order, have -
- a stronger educational philosophy – they value and recognise good pedagogy – have a passion for teaching quality and supporting the professional and practitioner in their learning
- been “assayed” to test their quality in ways that have made them more robust and confident compared with earlier entries to the university community
- an interest in providing a ladder of progression from FE into HE probably with a commitment to Lifelong Learning Networks, Foundation degrees and perhaps including some FE work in their range.
- a distinctive ethos or set of values; a set of institutional characteristics which they could argue makes them unique.
- an interest in work life balance for their staff; have staff who express pride in their institution; they are able to elicit a strong allegiance from their workforce;
- a commitment to serving the educational needs of particular professions - teaching, arts, land based, health for example and probably those of newly developing professions and service sectors such as new media and web creative industries.
- a turnover at the medium scale for the sector and are deliberately choosing to remain at a scale, and perhaps with internal organisational structures, where they can retain a sense of community and place; they provide education on a human scale with greater personal interaction.
- a student centred approach to learning, where teaching, learning and pedagogy are highly valued within the institutional culture and reward structures.
- a commitment to a specific local and regional development perspective; likely to be working in a major town or more rural context rather than a metropolitan frame.
- an academic and student community which demonstrates its commitment to flexible learning; probably with high widening participation numbers, mature students; part time and non traditional learning modes.
- an engagement with applied research, business or profession led and funded, and with a number of highly distinctive foci of research excellence; a commitment to working with SME and emerging commercial sectors and the Leitch employer led agenda of skills based development.