THE BLOG

What Makes a Good University Worth a Mention?

24/07/2014 12:18 BST | Updated 23/09/2014 10:59 BST

This week is Graduation Week at Nottingham Trent Universityhttp://www.ntu.ac.uk and the city centre is filled with smiling happy graduates and their proud families and friends. The beautiful weather has helped greatly to create a festival atmosphere as they spread out colourfully across the lawns and courtyards. The event is gilded by the fact that an NTU Alumnus, Dave Lewis, has just been appointed as the new Chief Executive Officer of Tesco. This is great news for an institution such as NTU but surprisingly, in most of the news reporting, his alma mater was not mentioned at all; across the broadsheets, only one thought it was worth a mention.

Discussing this with my colleagues, as we shared our disappointment at a missed chance to get some additional profile, got me thinking about the rank snobbery there still appears to be out there with regard to British Universities. I know for a fact that this august institution, which this year actually celebrates its 170th anniversary as a centre for learning in Nottingham, has turned out some wonderfully talented and successful individuals; my late father amongst them. We have been a university for 22 years now, come on people, it's time to move on!

We have a highly respected Law School, one of the best Business Schools in the country and our research rating is higher than many of the other universities in this region. We jumped up 9 places in the league tables this year and the estate has had major investment in the last decade, meaning that our student approval ratings are off the scale. Despite all this, we don't seem to get the profile we deserve and, more importantly for me, we have been turned down for funding in a number of key areas in recent years for who knows what reason; is it because we are not a Russell Group university, or maybe the fact that we don't have a Medical School? Is it because no-one really knows where the Midlands is?

Thankfully, the John and Lucille van Geest Foundation chose to give us significant funding for our cancer research over a number of years. They were very selective about who and what they chose to fund, putting us in an elite group with the likes of Kings College, a number of Oxford colleges and closer to home, Leicester University Hospitals, with whom we collaborate on some of our most impressive research projects around Prostate Cancer.

As a fundraiser with big targets to hit, it is important to me that we are able to raise the profile of this university whenever there is a good news story to be told. I am very proud to be working with incredible and talented scientists at the John van Geest Cancer Research Centre http://www.ntu.ac.uk/vangeest and have spent much of my time lately spreading the good news about the research. In the last few months alone, we have had some significant papers published in a number of highly regarded science journals and some great coverage across the press spectrum, including the occasional exclusive.

So what was different this time around? Whilst I scratch my head and try to work it out, let me say again - the new CEO of Tesco studied at Nottingham Trent University http://www.ntu.ac.uk. You heard it here first!