T.H.E.: 'When a large number of departments in teaching-led universities were discovered by the 2008 research assessment exercise to be producing world-class work, a new phrase quickly entered the higher education lexicon.
'"Pockets of excellence" became a rallying cry for post-1992 universities keen to show that they could compete with the research elite. But a subtle rebranding of the "pockets" by the Higher Education Funding Council for England has raised eyebrows - and shown how politically sensitive the pockets have become.
'Last week, David Eastwood, chief executive of Hefce, confirmed that the funding body's preferred metaphor for the departments was now "islands of excellence", because it imbued them with a greater sense of isolation.'