A refresh of our identity

A refresh of our identity

Vice-Chancellor Professor Grant Guilford discusses the University’s Council decision to adopt a branding refresh strategy and not to change Victoria University of Wellington’s legal name.

As you will know, a lot of discussion has been taking place about the University’s name and what our next steps may be following the Minister of Education’s decision to decline a name change to University of Wellington.

I’m pleased to let you know that the University Council has now made a decision, which is to focus on branding, rather than legally changing the University’s name, to manage the very real international confusion over who and where we are.

This confusion has been highlighted by new market research showing that an abbreviated form of the University’s name—Victoria University—has a poor association with New Zealand. The Colmar Brunton research shows that only 4 percent of international students, 2 percent of their influencers and 12 percent of overseas university staff say that ‘Victoria University’ is based in New Zealand.

In light of these results, it would be irresponsible to continue with the status quo. It  does a disservice to our staff, in particular our academics, whose research is among the best in New Zealand, as demonstrated by last week’s PBRF results showing we are the top university in New Zealand for research quality intensity. And it does a disservice to our graduates, whose qualifications do not receive the recognition they might otherwise receive if our University’s international reputation was more in keeping with the quality of its teaching and research.

To address the challenges, while our legal name remains Victoria University of Wellington, we will be emphasising the ‘Wellington’ in our name, wherever possible, to firmly link the University’s identity to its location in the Wellington region.

The University Council has also approved a new Māori name of Te Herenga Waka, subject to further discussion with mana whenua.

Other changes to our identity are the adoption of a new shield and crest that features a traditional Māori niho taniwha pattern found in panels at the University’s Te Herenga Waka marae—a symbol for the collective purpose of a university community. Beneath the pattern is a representation of water—Te Whanganui-a-Tara—which locates the University in the harbour city of Wellington. The inclusion of the University’s establishment date of 1897 in the shield highlights our long legacy dating back to its origins as a college of the University of New Zealand.

Thanks to all those who participated in consultation about the University’s name over the past year. There is much work still to be done and we will continue to update you on any developments.

We are determined to ensure that our students receive the recognition you have earned from studying at a globally-ranked university.

Professor Grant Guilford has been Vice-Chancellor since 2014. You can follow him on Twitter: @GrantGuilford.

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