The project will use cutting-edge methods of social network analysis to investigate a variety of forms of communication between institutions, looking at how university accounts follow one another, participate in the same conversations, and mention one another in tweets.

Insights gained through the analysis will help to inform the LFHE’s work with leaders in higher education, who increasingly navigate a complex world in which communication network are self-organising and driven by bottom-up exchange.

The LFHE is a registered charity, committed to developing and improving the management and leadership skills of existing and future leaders of higher education. The project will contribute to its work by helping higher education leaders to understand the communications environment in which they work, also identifying how leaders can engage with emerging communications networks.

Project lead Dr Robin Shields from the Department of Education said: "This project is one of the first attempts to systematically study social media communication in higher education, using innovative research methods and large-scale datasets."

The project will continue the University’s track record of excellence in research and teaching on higher education leadership and management, and will involve close work with the Centre for Networks and Collective Behaviour (CNCB), an interdisciplinary centre specialising in the development of research methods for complex network data.

Dr Jonathan Dawes, Director of the Centre for Networks & Collective Behaviour added: "The CNCB at Bath offers a forum for the discussion about research where issues of network connectivity or collective behaviour between individuals arise. This project to map Twitter usage and interactions within HE exemplifies the spirit of interdisciplinary thinking that we are aiming to support.

"Dr Shields gave a really stimulating CNCB seminar in February this year and I am delighted that he's been funded to continue and develop his work in this area.”