Staff and students want Trinity to be more like Oxbridge according to survey by ‘Identity Initiative’

Lia Flattery

Staff Writer

  • Identity initiative part of new drive to boost Trinity’s international ranking
  • Hopes that new name and logo will “create a more cohesive and powerful story”
  • Members of public continue to identify Trinity as “snobbish”

The universities that College should aim to be most similar to are Harvard, Oxford and Cambridge, according to the 943 members of staff and 955 students surveyed since the beginning of the academic year as part of the Trinity ‘Identity Initiative’ scheme. 17% of staff and 16% of students see Harvard University as the university to most aspire to, 16% of staff and 17% of students look to the University of Cambridge as an ideal model, and a further 16% of both staff and students believe that Trinity should aim to be most similar to the University of Oxford. Only 15% of staff and 10% of students stated that Trinity should aim to “be itself”.

The survey was the brainchild of Bernard Mallee, the director of communications and marketing, and Beibhinn Coman, the marketing manager. It was conducted among students, staff and members of the general public to gauge support for a new name and logo change for Trinity. The survey’s findings are expected to guide the strategies of the College Identity Initiative, a scheme which is part of a new drive to boost Trinity’s international rankings. The initiative’s recommendations will be delivered in advance of College’s new Strategic Plan 2014-2019, which will be launched next September.

In an email to students in November, Provost Patrick Prendergast said that the initiative’s objective is “to create a shared visual identity and narrative for the entire university. This will allow us to tell a more cohesive and powerful story about what Trinity wishes to achieve in the future. By taking such a professional approach to our identity and brand, we will be able to better use our strengths as a university with a global reputation in student recruitment, in fundraising, and in public relations.”

The results of the survey showed that of the College’s various current names, ‘Trinity College Dublin” was most popular, while “TCD” was liked least. The research also suggested that the word “university” is particularly important to people in describing Trinity and College authorities want the new name to incorporate this.

Among the other findings of the survey was that that the majority of people surveyed regarded Trinity’s rich heritage and history as the biggest factor distinguishing it from other Irish universities, and that the college’s greatest strength is the worldwide renown and respect that it holds.

Candidates were also asked what words they most associate with Trinity. “Academic” and “education” were the most frequently used words. “Snobbish” was the second most popular word among members of the public, but featured to a lesser degree in student and staff responses.

The results of the staff category have shown that just over half of staff are satisfied that Trinity’s current visual identity adequately communicates the identity of modern Trinity, and 80% felt that the current crest should remain unchanged.

The initiative aims to boost Trinity’s international university rating by changing the college’s name to better represent its university status on the world stage. Trinity dropped 19 places in last year’s Times Higher Education Rankings from 110th position in 2012 to 119th in 2013.

The project is intended to rebrand the Trinity image in a way that adequately captures its “identity” as a university, and to create a clearer and more unified image of Trinity as an education and research focused institution operating on a global level.

Dr Patrick Prendergast told the Independent in November 2013 that, “You can go around the world and talk about Oxford and Cambridge, Stanford and Berkeley and the Sorbonne. They are global brands: Trinity doesn’t have a global brand as a university.” The rebranding contract has been given to Irish company, Huguenot, in collaboration with the UK-based Lloyd Northover company.

Alongside the name and logo change, organisers of the initiative plan to establish an “identity toolkit”. This would be an online platform that would make available to students and staff the new official Trinity logo and typography for use in such materials as presentations, signage, event materials and letters. Identity toolkits are already in use in universities such as Oxford and Stanford.