chapter  11
Prestige in academic life
Excellence and exclusion
Pages 15

Prestige plays a major part in universities worldwide. It is a scarce and often intangible quality that, unlike reputation, cannot be possessed by all. Prestige-related perceptions often frame decisions about higher education. The growth of mass education, the forces of globalisation and the working of the knowledge economy make prestige an ever more important aspect of higher education as competition among graduates, institutions and nation states intensifies. Most of the above problems are increasing in scale and the need to tackle them is becoming more urgent. Prestige is deeply rooted in all forms of social organisation and is a centrally important aspect of both individual and group psychology. Prestige needs to be recognised, understood and dealt with in ways that help universities to be more efficient and effective, celebrating excellence and minimising exclusion. The study of prestige can be an increasingly valuable way of understanding and gaining the potential to modify attitudes, values and behaviours in a complex world.