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Distinct conference, 2012: Further details and a roundup of resources.
The Distinct Project
Countdown to distinctiveness

There are only 8 weeks left until our end-of-project conference, focussing on using distinctiveness to achieve your strategic goals. 

To whet your appetite during the run up, we're offering fortnightly resource highlights grouped by the conference themes, along with a glimpse of what is yet to come as we share the final outcomes of the project. In this issue we focus on the first stage of the journey towards a distinctive identity: 'the case for change'. In the next, we'll address the second stage: 'establishing your distinctiveness'.

In the meantime, do take a look at our June 2012 conference details. We hope you'll be able to join us for what promises to be a fascinating day - with several Vice-Chancellors speaking, and a plenary from the world's leading practitioner of branding and identity, Wally Olins. If you're unable to attend, fear not: we'll also be offering a live newsfeed and issuing a post-conference summary.
 
The case for change 

Becoming distinctive requires varying levels of change for an organisation; change through portfolio review, change through focus of delivery model, change through an identified ethos that the university exemplifies in everything that it does. A collective understanding of, and agreement to, the goals of that change is non-negotiable if it is to have any authenticity or gain any traction in your institution.

What’s more, the pursuit of distinctiveness for its own sake should not be the goal of any change you wish to make. If it were, you would do just as well to go down the route of infamy (though easy, it’s not usually recommended). Instead, the question that you seek to answer should come out of the goals you want your institution to achieve: “how can I increase student recruitment in our target markets, or the satisfaction of my staff or students, or augment our research profile?” Institutions that have answered these questions well have more often than not arrived at a strong distinctive identity –not as a by-product, but perhaps as a measure of the strength of their direction and purpose.

Persuading your peers of the value of distinctiveness as a strategic vehicle is also important. There are widely varying views on the HE environment post-2010, and on the extent to which it has been marketised. In terms of commonly accepted marketing principles, we are operating in a flawed market at best; but the outcome of this is that HEIs will have to compete (and possibly collaborate) more to attract the resources, students, staff and contacts they need. The benefits of becoming truly distinctive may well prove to be crucial, as the 2012-onwards fees era comes in. 

We have prepared a suite of resources to support you with these issues – some we’ve already shared with you, and some are due to be published shortly. Here’s a roundup...
Key resources:

1. Aren't we distinctive already?;
2. The mission statement exercise; and 
3. Understanding your competitive market, a briefing note from Rosemary Stamp. 
Coming soon:
 
>The process of analysing your institution's distinctiveness - a workshop tool; and
>Elite without being elitist - University of Leicester case study
Book now!

The Distinct project, CASE and Universitities UK are jointly hosting a senior level conference to share research outcomes and resources from within, and beyond, the sector. Learn more...

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