4.02.2007

branded

The University now has a new brand. Yes, a brand... y'know, like Apple, Bose or Cadbury.

Newcastle will too be a brand. Kudos for the new seahorse design. I must say that it does look more sleek and modern compared to the original seahorse crest. Thank goodness they also decided to remove that awful motto of "I Look Ahead" from the logo too... really, couldn't they have jazzed it up by using its Latin equivalent?

As much as I like the new logo and what it hopes to stand for, there's a wee bit of my that's decidedly squirming. It hasn't stopped since I got the mass email sent out by someone simplyknown as vc. I nearly marked it as spam and sent it for a speedy deletion.

There are just so many things wrong with the situation, I don't know where to begin.

Let's start with the fact that we're talking about an educational institution., not a bloody business empire for goodness sakes. Seems as if the line between the two has been blurred, if not completely obliterated. The Australian Vice-Chancellors' Committee has set out a document outlining the responsibilities of any university in the country. This includes guidelines concerning course development and approval, admission arrangements, teaching and learning, assesments, appeals and grievances and information. This new branding scheme appears to fall under the guideline whereby:

Australian higher education should be promoted and marketed accurately and honestly in terms of its quality, its standing and its availability. Qualitative and subjective judgements about other universities should be avoided, and no false or misleading comparisons should be drawn with any other provider.

So, it's legit but the question is, is it justifiable? The university still has duties to fulfil in the other areas as stipulated. What is the point of creating a vibrant, fresh new image.. or to tabulate old vs new when it is all but a hollow shell. I understand that a certain amount of marketing must be employed to entice new students every year to come and sustain the institution but from my little corner of the picture, I am a bit miffed.

There have been rumors of the med school shutting down due to lack of funds. There have been headlines stating that the institution itself was in $28 million worth of red tape. More than 50% of staff and/or courses were cut in the aftermath. So much for that thing called providing the best quality of education for students. Kudos for caring about the community when it couldn't even care for its own staff.

Currently, we can barely cope with the current student population in med school. It's been an ongoing issue with lack of funding looming large in the picture. I am sure the decisions came about from numerous other pieces of information and evidence that are only privy to those behind closed doors so that the decisions themselves usually seem ludicrous at best to the rest of us. Take the recent intake of 200 first year med students, some of which will be doing the course via distance learning at the New England University, a rural site. Our first year intake 5 years ago was around 90. As it was, there were already numerous problems stretching the available teaching and support resources between the lot of us. 200 students.. distance learning.. what next... Become-a-Doctor-by-numbers?

This is, but one school in one faculty in this institution. Yet, they've set aside time and money to come up with a new brand instead.

This work has involved staff, students, business, media, government, international agents, careers advisors and prospective students in interviews, workshops, seminars and surveys. ...These web pages explain the thinking behind our brand strategy and show work to date on key communication materials.

International agents eh.. media.. workshops.. that spells moolah. Moolah that could've been used with the brains behind the branding to come up with a better system that won't jeopardize the actual learning experience. I mean, if you had a choice of graduating with a degree that wasn't spat upon or getting a printout of your results on swanky new paper with a swish slick logo, is it that hard a decision to make? These people want to the bakery to bake their customized cake, deliver the thing and eat it. Dude, learn to cut the fat. See, you turn your back on tradition and miss out on a very important lesson.. you can't have your cake and eat it.

That being said... what's done is done.. and I've said what I wanted to say, which is more than enough methinks... and this is turning into one hell of a run-on sentence. Anyway, I guess this is one more reason to be happy about when graduation day finally rolls around. Can't wait to get outta here!

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