The motivation behind university mottos
Are you motivated by university mottos? Source: Lucas Law/Unsplash

Have you ever seen this Wikipedia page?

From Argentina to Ghana, this is where you’ll find intriguing slogans from universities worldwide, and this page helps us discover the mottos many academics live by.

But in an age that’s threatened by technological disruption that has already consumed many minds through smart screens and social media, do students really care about university mottos and how much do they impact their university choice?

A planet that’s overpopulated with ads

As Hootsuite outlined last year, social media advertising statistics are being closely monitored by marketers due to significant rises in spending.

“As of 2018, there are 3.196 billion people using social media on the planet, up 13 percent from 2017 to 2018.”

And that’s just social media. Imagine how many people walk past giant billboards with screaming slogans every day, or how many commuters read free newspapers on the way to work, all of which are smothered in branded advertisements and colourful consumer ideals.

So how do universities survive in an overpopulated red ocean of academic ads?

Selling study programmes through stories

Hootsuite notes that ‘Stories ads’ are getting better and many social media users enjoy story-telling content. Whether that refers to a live feed of someone’s day, a personal account of someone’s academic adventure or a brand that has an incredible story behind it, today’s audience is clearly in search of something they can relate to.

A motto that fits in with a university’s story/ethos instantly reflects its character and becomes a message for aspiring students to consider.

But along with an increase in narrative-based advertisements comes an increase in pressure for universities to have a motto that matches up to the proposed student experience.

We live in a world full of oversaturated content – the slogan must also have the power to stand out in a sea of words.

Branded content is inescapable. Source: Saketh Garuda/Unsplash

University mottos that stand out

Out of the long list from Wikipedia, I chose three mottos that instantly caught my attention and decided to analyse what these mottos meant to me:

学无止境 气有浩然 – There is no end to learning

From China’s Shandong University, this education hub has the freedom to use this slogan long into the future, since, in my opinion, it is simply timeless.

Despite the onslaught of digital disruption, education remains prevalent in our globalised world.

As one of the most stable pillars of progress, this motto encapsulates the true essence of education and what it stands for: continuous learning and an equal platform for all.

The constellations change, but the mind remains the same

The University of Sydney takes a mystical approach to its motto.

As our planet moves forward and the stars transition into various constellations, our minds remain the same – bound to earth and eager to learn.

That’s why this slogan has the power to capture the attention of international students and educators alike. Knowledge has led us through many historical occurrences and natural disasters, and these words remind us that the power of the human mind is one thing we can always rely on.

Some of the greatest minds that have walked this planet have used their expertise for the greater good.

By reminding students that their knowledge is a permanent and beneficial tool, to be leveraged, the University of Sydney creates a billboard-worthy slogan.

Liderazgo para el Futuro – Leadership for the future

The future is the focus at the Autonomous University of Bucaramanga (UNAB).

As we all know, the future is uncertain, but the authoritative mention of ‘leadership’ here gives UNAB students hope, assuring them that this institution strives for a brighter tomorrow.

Due to the current state of our climate and natural environments, effective leadership will play a huge role in future societies. We will need great leaders with inventive minds to save our planet and take our eco-initiatives further.

Quite like the Shandong slogan, UNAB has a timeless motto that leads students towards their upcoming graduation and success.

But with full speed ahead, will this slogan stay on trend?

Source: Felicia Buitenwerf/Unsplash

The motivational impact of university mottos 

A unifying motto gives students, professors and alumni of the same university something that binds them together.

Whether it’s printed on their merchandise or carved into the university’s architecture, it’s a message that subtly motivates learners to continue their academic journey, quietly reminding them why they took their chosen course in the first place.

In an everchanging landscape, it’s important to keep traditions alive, but it’s also important to know when a motto needs a new lease of life.

But with these messages in place, universities will continue to interact, influence and inspire current and future generations of changemakers.

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