Here’s an infographic of 29 psychological tricks and tactics used to make people buy more. Some obvious, some less so. I’ve mentioned some of these before, but reducing syllables? Removing commas?
What’s in a name? #5
Every year, millions of people flock to the Netherlands, or more precisely, to just one part of it: Holland. In an effort to manage overtourism, the entire country is rebranding.
Why the Netherlands is ditching Holland as its nickname – Quartz
The government of the Netherlands has a message for the world: There’s more to our country than just Holland.
To ensure nobody forgets it, the country says it will stop using Holland as its nickname come January. The move, which comes ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and the Eurovision Song Contest (which the Netherlands will host this year), is part of a €200,000 ($223,000) rebranding campaign to update the country’s international image.
The Netherlands reveals new identity and drops ‘Holland’ for good – Design Week
While the old logo featured an expressively drawn tulip, the new logo embeds the Dutch icon in a more subtle way through the use of negative space.
The N and L lettering forms a silhouette of the tulip’s petals. “The logo is intriguing, but at the same time solid and straight to the point,” Studio Dumbar tells Design Week.
In this way, the logo is “a true reflection of the Dutch mentality”, according to the studio.
Let’s have a break from UK politics for a moment, and take a look over the Atlantic.
The race to be the Democratic presidential candidate is now down from 23 to 11, and here is how The Center for American Politics and Design orders their branding.
Ranking the 11 Democratic candidates, by their logos alone
7. JOE BIDEN. Say it ain’t so, Joe. This logo may or may not look like it has a groping hand inside of it. But this side note has nothing to do with our expert’s critique. No, they’re more concerned that Biden’s logo looks too traditional.
1. CORY BOOKER. When I first received the ranked list from the Center, I honestly wasn’t sure if I was reading it in the right order. Was Booker first . . . or last? In fact, Booker’s stacked, two-block, blue and red logo, which reads “Cory” and “2020,” received the highest scores from every judge but one.
What to do with helicopter parents?
I’ve worked in a number of universities and know that it’s not easy being a university student; lots to worry about. And I know it’s not easy being the parent of a university student; lots to worry about. I’ve been the former, and in a year’s time, if all goes well, I’ll be the latter.
In this article for WonkHE, Alan Sutherland from Surrey SU considers the problems universities and parents have with each other’s expectations, and a possible way forward.
Parents are at the sharp end of marketisation
The 2019 UCAS application cycle is almost complete, and at the time of writing almost half a million undergraduates will be starting at a UK university in a few weeks time.
What part, however, are parents allowed and expected to play in the next few years? After a harrowing experience with a gaggle of angry parents, I thought it wise to take a closer look at the parental experience.
Hoover’s fatal mess
A cautionary tale from the 90s. How not to manage a marketing campaign.
The worst sales promotion in history: Hoover’s free flight fiasco
In late 1992, the UK branch of the vacuum manufacturer, Hoover, offered an impossibly sweet promotion: If a customer bought any product worth £100, he’d get two free round-trip flights to the United States.
What could possibly go wrong? Well, pretty much everything. Multi-million pound losses and the end of the company, at one time one of the most trusted in the UK.
Under a new promotion, that same £100 Hoover purchase could net a UK-based customer two free round-trip flights to New York or Orlando — a package worth £600+ (£1200, or $1,460 USD, today).
When Hoover ran this plan by risk management professionals, the company was warned that it would be an absolute disaster.
“To me it made no logical sense,” recalled Mark Kimber, one of the consultants. “Having looked at the details of the promotion [and] attempting to calculate how it would actually work I declined to even offer risk management coverage.”
A quick look at the numbers. What were they thinking?
League table fatigue
Another weekend saw another trip to a university’s Open Day, and another PowerPoint presentation full of league table statistics…
Unknown pleasures: exciting new uni rankings
As this commentary from my colleague Professor Mike Merrifield observes using university league tables is not a great way to choose where to apply for a university place both because of the way they are compiled and their inherent flaws.
But there are plenty of them out of there and they never stop coming. And we are now in peak league table season. So, put your sceptical face on and have a look at a couple of the most recent major offerings.
Vast differences exposed in graduate outcomes
New data published today shows the wide variation in graduate outcomes depending course and institution.
Government reveals student loan contribution
Data published today shows forecasts for student numbers, the cost of student loans and loan repayments in England.
Is this a reversal of the phrase, ‘you are what you eat’? Now you can eat what you are.
Burger King trolls McDonald’s while nodding to mental health issues in new campaign
One of the joys of a big brand rivalry must be the chance every now and again to get one over on your nemesis through a catty campaign – or to try to at least. This week Burger King has stepped up to the plate, waving a red rag to its biggest foe McDonald’s with the launch of five “Real Meal” boxes, a cheeky rip of McDonald’s famous Happy Meal. Including Pissed, Blue, Salty Meal, YAAAS and DGAF (that’s “don’t give a f–k” to save you the Urban Dictionary trip), the new boxes allow customers to order a Whopper based on their mood, alluding to the fact that many people ordering a “Happy” Meal are far from it.
See also this other unhappy meal.
The only way is up
Whilst I’ve not worked in the HE sector for about four years now, I still like to keep an eye on what’s going on. And I see the grade inflation debate is continuing.
UK universities to hold inquiry into degree awards policies
The report led by the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education concludes that while it is difficult to pinpoint the causes, perceptions of grade inflation could erode the usefulness of honours degree classes and undermine confidence in academic standards.
Perhaps the lecturers and students are just getting cleverer?
The report found that improvements in student performance, better teaching and increased efficiency “only explain a certain proportion of the uplift” in degree classes.
I wonder what could be causing this, then.
Public attitudes, including employers’ perceptions that first and 2:1 degrees are “good” degrees, may also act as incentives. Noting that institutions with a high proportion of upper degrees receive a boost in some league table, the report said: “Where competition to attract students is high, institutions have an incentive to perform well in league tables.”
When I was a university Deputy Registrar, I was involved in Professor Bob Burgess’s nationwide HEAR implementation group, established, in part, to tackle this 2:1 issue.
HEAR: Higher Education Achievement Report
The Higher Education Achievement Report (HEAR) is designed to encourage a more sophisticated approach to recording student achievement, which acknowledges fully the range of opportunities that higher education institutions in the UK offer to their students. The HEAR was launched in 2008 (with 18 institutions) following recommendations that universities needed to be able to provide a more comprehensive record of student achievement.
Is that still a thing? (I note the © notice in their website footer is now
three four five years out-of-date.) It’s a shame if it’s fallen away somewhat, as some of us thought it might, as it had some lofty aims. I was always frustrated, though, that it fell short of pushing for a replacement to the classification system that it deemed to be “no longer fit for purpose”.
Beyond the honours degree classification: Burgess Group Final Report October 2007 (pdf)
The diagnosis presented by the Scoping Group was simple – and one with which we swiftly concurred – the UK honours degree is a robust and highly-valued qualification but the honours degree classification system is no longer fit for purpose. It cannot describe, and therefore does not do full justice to, the range of knowledge, skills, experience and attributes of a graduate in the 21st century. Exploring how to reform or replace the classification system has not been easy. We have conducted extensive work to develop a practical set of proposals upon which we are all agreed.
One method I use to try to keep up-to-date with HE politics is to read Wonkhe, a website for “higher education wonks: those who work in and around universities and anyone interested and engaged in higher education policy, people and politics.”
This was their take on the HEAR, from 2007.
Degree classifications: just too good to lose
The report basically accepts that changing the traditional degree classification system is just too darn difficult and that we can only get round it by adding a new and improved transcript (with a new name – HEAR) to provide lots of extra info. […] Not the finest example of progressive thinking from UK universities. What proportion of students have to get a 2:1 before we change the system? Will anyone go it alone?
They have quite a few articles on grade inflation for me to catch up with; this debate has been churned over for a while now.
UK degree algorithms: the nuts and bolts of grade inflation (July 2018)
Signals for some or benefit for all: grade inflation in context (June 2018)
Bang! – grade inflation in TEF3 (June 2018)
Criteria or quotas for success? Grade inflation and the role of norm-referencing (June 2018)
Grade inflation: a clear and present danger (May 2018)
Taking on grade inflation in UK higher education (January 2018)
Are today’s degrees really first class? (January 2018)
Grade inflation could be the next battleground for higher education (January 2018)
‘Too many Firsts’ mean another discussion of GPA (October 2017)
Below standard: grade inflation in TEF (September 2017)
Another false dawn for Grade Point Averages? (June 2016)
REF results marred by fears over grade inflation (December 2014)
In HE, everyone’s at it *
* Being deceitful, that is. Or maybe just willfully ambiguous?
Let’s start with Alex Hayman from Which? University.
Students need clarity when choosing a university
It has been almost a year since the Advertising Standards Authority upheld a number of complaints about misleading information in HE. Despite the clear warnings, we’ve investigated and found at least six universities included examples of unsubstantiated or unverifiable claims about their standing on their websites, in likely breach of advertising standards. This just isn’t good enough.
Various examples are listed. This is an interesting line from The Guardian.
UK universities ‘still inflate their statuses despite crackdown’
The continued use of assertions about high international status is evidence of the strain universities are under to increase their domestic and international student recruitment, as well as the effects of global rankings.
Hmm. But, of course, it’s not just the universities that are happy to stretch the truth.
Essay mills: ‘One in seven’ paying for university essays
More students than ever are paying someone else to write assignments for them via “essay mills”, a Swansea University study has revealed. The survey of more than 50,000 students, found 15.7% admitted to cheating since 2014 – up from an average of 3.5% over the last 40 years. […]
It showed the amount of students admitting to contract cheating, when students pass off a custom-made essay as their own, has increased over time. But Prof Newton, director of learning and teaching at Swansea Medical School, suggested the number could be much higher, as students who have paid for essays to be written are far less likely to volunteer to take part in surveys on cheating.
Indeed. But what if you want to exaggerate how much work you’ve done, but are a little short on funds? Free fonts!
Times Newer Roman
Introducing Times Newer Roman, a font that kinda looks like Times New Roman, except each character is 5-10% wider. Fulfill lengthy page requirements with hacked margins, adjusted punctuation sizing, and now, Times Newer Roman!
Times Newer Roman is a sneaky font designed to make your essays look longer
According to Times Newer Roman’s website, a 15-page, single-spaced document in 12 point type only requires 5,833 words, compared to 6,680 for the standard Times New Roman. (That’s 847 words you don’t need to write, which is more than twice the length of this post!) […]
Of course, it’s the digital age, so there are some downsides: Times Newer Roman will only work for assignments you have to submit by hand or in a PDF. If you’re sending in a Word document using a custom font that professors almost certainly don’t have installed won’t help. Similarly, Times Newer Roman is only useful for hitting larger page counts; if you have a strict word count limit, you’re out of luck.
A university union rep unhappy with their university’s spending?
I think it’s traditional to mock corporate rebrands and be appalled at the sums of money involved swapping one little logo for another little logo, but the timing of this one could have been better.
University of Portsmouth under fire over £800,000 rebrand costs as departments face cuts
Dr James Hicks, city university branch secretary of the University and College union, said: ‘I don’t understand why they would spend so much money on a logo and shortly after that say we’re having difficulties and might need to make savings. ‘You would assume they would have thought this through and it would be a little more joined up.’
I wouldn’t like to comment on the levels of marketing and recruitment expertise the UCU rep has – obviously it’s not £800,000 on just a logo – but after yesterday’s post about strike action, and the attention currently on VC pay, this could have been managed better.
Times Higher Education v-c pay survey 2018
Times Higher Education’s survey of vice-chancellors’ pay in the most recently reported financial year, 2016-17, reveals that Snowden’s total remuneration rose to £433,000 in 2016-17, while that of Breakwell – who announced last November that she would retire at the end of the current academic year – reached £471,000, a rise of 4.4 per cent. But even that salary looked paltry compared with the headline-grabbing £808,000 earned by Christina Slade of neighbouring Bath Spa University, a figure that – as THE revealed in December – included a £429,000 pay-off for “loss of office”.
Bath University vice-chancellor quits after outcry over £468k pay
“Professor Breakwell will receive more than £600,000 from the university, an enormous reward for failure, and will continue to exercise the authority which has generated the ‘climate of fear’ now openly talked-of on campus,” a joint statement from the campus unions UCU, Unite and Unison, said. […]
Ana Dinerstein, a member of the senate who last week voted no-confidence in Breakwell, said: “This is great opportunity for change that will start at Bath University and can spread throughout the sector. It can be a turning point.”
Rosy prospectuses ‘misleading’ students
“Paul Temple, reader in higher education management at the Institute of Education, University of London, said that Dr Bradley’s basic argument was correct. “Universities do sometimes bend the facts to breaking point, and that should stop,” he said. But he cautioned that some of the paper’s criticisms “imply that he’s setting the bar very high” in terms of how data are presented, and that some of the points it makes “verge on the pedantic”.”
Pedantic or not, someone should develop a truth app that we could point any website to, to easily highlight these ‘inaccuracies’.