Making of a good institutional report

The best university reports are written with their ideal audience in mind. These are the key stakeholders who make vital decisions about the financing of higher education institutions.

For the report from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, it is clear that the report is written for a set of stakeholders who understand how the university works, are sympathetic to its aims, and interested in prestige. In other words, it is mainly aimed at alumni who want to see prestige
achievements and awards, policymakers already highly aware of the value of universities and investors looking to put their money into cutting edge research.

The report is therefore short, and aimed not at representing everything that the university does, but in highlighting the very best work that it has done in the past year. Israel is a small country that invests heavily in
science and technology and has a culture of technology transfer from the public to the private sector. Public funding for science is not under extreme stress. Hebrew University is the leading university in Israel, and so the main aim is to showcase the world class aspects of its performance to ensure that it is well respected.

The University of Birmingham, on the other hand, focuses much more on bold and simple statistics that show the contribution and impact the university has on the local economy and on the well being of citizens. Its main stakeholders are the general public and policymakers who are
less knowledgeable about or interested in universities. It is therefore easy to grasp most of this report without reading closely. Because it aims to have more broad appeal, it focuses not only on the top few percent of its research, but on broader impacts that speak to real social differences.

The UK is a much larger country with a less engaged population and higher education financing under serious threat. Therefore this model of university report can be seen as a way of reaching a different set of stakeholders (the general public) in a very different political environment.