One year after it was first proposed, Victoria University of Wellington officials have finally confirmed they will not be changing the university’s name.
The decision ends a rollercoaster ride of ups and downs brought about by the proposal. First, the university announced it would be changing its name – a decision which saw students, staff, and Wellingtonians at large petition the university to “stick with Vic”. Then, Education Minister Chris Hipkins rejected the name change, saying the university had to consult with students and staff if it wanted to move ahead with its proposal. Most people thought this put an end to things – but Victoria University staff made headlines when they suggested they were considering challenging the minister’s decision. In a series of press releases made public at the beginning of the university year, Victoria University officials said councillors were seeking and discussing legal advice on how best to do this.
For a while, it seemed as if everything was set for the matter to move to court – but Vice-Chancellor Grant Guildford has put an end to the speculation. “We’ve decided to set aside those concerns and move forward,” Guildford told media early last week.“Taking a minister to court” would only hurt the university’s reputation. “[Name changes are] always controversial, always hard fought, so this was fully expected – but the debate has shown us a number of things we were not aware of,” he said.
However, while the university won’t be changing its name any time soon, it will undergo an extensive re-brand. The university has commissioned and finalised a new logo and shield as part of a “visual identity refresh”. It has also begun changing all university-based branding to emphasise the “Wellington” in the university’s name. In addition, the university plans to rename its marae: Te Whare Wānanga o te Ūpoko o te Ika a Māui will be replaced with the name Te Herenga Waka (fun fact: according to Google translate, Te Herenga Waka means “Car Rental”).
The rebrand is intended to capture the same market the name change went after: international students. Guildford says the word “Victoria” is common among university names world-wide. He believes this confuses international students, leading to reduced attendance numbers and revenues. According to Guildford, only 4 percent of international students were aware that Victoria University was actually in New Zealand. He is hopeful this rebrand will alleviate some of that confusion.
Guildford says the university is not sure how much the rebrand will cost, but expects it will be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. The money will be split between design cost and legal trademark protection.