Grant Guilford, Vice-Chancellor
Madeleine Setchell, Director Communications, Marketing and Engagement
Rawinia Higgins, Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor Engagement
23 April 2018
International Reputation Building
The University is currently looking at a programme of work to improve our international
reputation. One idea being discussed is the simplification of the University’s name. The
Vice-Chancellor is currently engaged in conversations with internal and external groups to
explore this idea.
If a decision is made to simplify the University’s name there will be a significant amount of
work required to make the changes required. While no decisions have been made yet,
discussions are underway about how this project might be undertaken. This memo outlines
the timeline and also the communications and engagement approach for the project.
These timings are based on, and work back from, the date that the official use of a simplified
name could begin. We are suggesting that any simplified name is used from
We believe this is the first practicable date given the work that needs to be done in
preparation for the change. This work includes brand development and guidelines, changes
to the most important web pages, consideration of sub-brand changes and graduation and
student recruitment cycles.
It should be noted that further discussion will be needed with other key groups in the
University through the project management process to test this timeline.
Develop an agency brief
Decide on scope.
and choose a partner
Agency to review and
Consolidate existing Approach and
design for brand work,
web templates and
including University seal,
audit all functionality. and agreed
federation branding and
house style layouts
engagement led by
through staff forums.
Trademarks applied for
Prepare web editors Name simplification
and give them
discussed by Council
University brand guidelines
Clone website and
begin to apply new
of name simplification
University brand guidelines
to staff, alumni,
Rebrand email newsletter
Website tested and
live end of
Victoria collateral (alumni,
Web work on live
new social media branding
Rebranding of graduation
Web work ongoing
on live site
New brand campaign
Web work ongoing
launched, subject to funding on live site
Web work ongoing
on live site
Communications and Engagement
This section proposes a communications and engagement approach to simplifying the
University’s name. This approach will guide efforts to ensure a variety of internal and
external audiences receive the right information, at the right time, in order to encourage buy-
in and understand the opportunities and challenges.
This section outlines an approach to communications and engagement for the first phase of
activity (until discussion and any decisions are made by the University Council, which is
expected to happen at the end of
If a decision is made it is envisaged that a
public announcement will be made in
Once a decision has been made by the
University Council, a targeted action plan will be developed to communicate the decision and
begin the programme of work needed to prepare for implementation in
The University will take a proactive approach to communication and engagement internally
and externally, and within New Zealand and internationally. The messaging will be adapted
as the discussions progress and develop.
Initially, the focus will be on:
with stakeholders (including government, partners, staff, students and alumni)
to examine and explain the rationale for change
by email, or direct to members of the Senior Leadership Team.
Once a preferred option or preferred options is/are developed the focus will be on:
clearly and widely the options and their potential benefits
quickly to media/public questions and criticisms
to help people understand what the University is doing and why
We will also follow the below principles of engagement
People who have the ability to influence the outcome of the decision, or have proven
their advocacy and support of the University will be communicated with on a one-to-
Providing context that is relevant to the audience is essential
all interested parties will be able to
Members of the University community will be provided with relevant and timely
information and their feedback will be responded to
Provide opportunity for input and keep updated via regular Council meetings.
Approvers of the common seal.
Engage early on and ensure they are provided with context and
ability to feedback.
SLT and other senior staff:
Need to have access to key messages and Q&A. To be
responsible for feeding back areas of concern to V-C and identifying opportunities for V-C to
further engage key groups.
High influence stakeholders:
Identify those who are influential and have a stake in the
decision and engage with them to ensure context is understood. This group includes
Advisory Board members, SLT managed relationships, funders, and partner institutions.
Engage with staff in a way that enables them to help identify ways to ensure Victoria’s
reputation is recognised on the international stage.
Engage as key members of the University community, and ensure they are
provided with context and ability to feedback. Identify influential alumni for more targeted
Donors and prospective donors:
Are treated as valued members of the University
community, are provided context and given opportunity to feedback on ideas to ensure
Victoria’s reputation is recognised on the international stage. Identify major donors, key
funder organisations/trusts for more targeted engagement.
Engage with key student leaders to gain their feedback.
Respond to queries as and when required with pre-prepared statements. V-C to be
Key Messages- Draft
The overarching messages, which will be refined and added to depending on the audience,
International research and the interactions of our staff and students show that the
very high quality of research and teaching at our University is not as well recognised
offshore as it should be.
A lack of international recognition of our strengths and capabilities is holding the
University back in terms of achieving the international reputation that aligns with our
Our international standing being out of kilter with our teaching and research quality
also affects alumni, staff and students, who are denied the career benefits conferred
by studying and working at an esteemed institution.
It is also problematic in that we are less well positioned to collaborate with top-ranked
institutions or compete for international research grants.
In addition, it compromises our ability to recruit and retrain international staff and
We are exploring the factors that are contributing to our international standing being
- One is the need to build deeper partnerships with other prestigious universities
around the world and, through these, conduct interdisciplinary, high impact,
- Another is to refine our publishing and dissemination strategies to maximise the
reach and visibility of our research.
- A third is to examine the clarity of our brand – we know that confusion arises
around the world because there are a number of other similarly named
institutions. This means that the achievements of our staff and students can be
attributed to other institutions and countries, dimming our international standing.
One possible solution to the confusion over our brand is to simplify the University’s
name. This has been proposed a number of times in the past, including in 1955 when
a vote was taken to name the University, the University of Wellington. It was mooted
again in the early 1970s and in 1992 when a member of Council suggested the word
Victoria be dropped.
There is an existing example of another university adopting this approach to deal with
the same challenges Victoria is facing—the former Victoria University of Manchester
became the University of Manchester in 2004.
The name the University of Wellington would align us even more closely with our city
and our region, something that is central to achieving our goal of being one of the
world’s great global-civic universities. Global-civic universities are first and foremost
about their city and are prepared to tie their fortunes to their city. There is untapped
potential in our relationship with Wellington, and with having our brand aligned more
closely with Wellington, could help build our international reputation.
Media Holding Statement
If media queries are received about a possible change to the University’s brand, the
following statement will be provided:
International research has shown that the very high quality of our research and teaching isn’t
being as well recognised offshore as it should be. We also know that confusion arises with
our name because there are a number of other universities around the world that are
similarly named. This means the achievements of our staff and students – and for –that
matter our City – can be attributed to other institutions and countries – diming our
international standing. Given the importance of the clarity of our name, we are considering
whether changes are needed.
(Approved by Vice-Chancellor)
We will also develop a set of questions and answers. Work has begun on a list of questions
which is outlined in Appendix One.
The University will use a range of existing channels to communicate and engagement with
its audiences including face-to-face meetings, staff forums and other internal
communications channels, e-newsletters, feedback forms and university publications.
A key channel for communicating and engaging with all our audiences is the website. Work
to date shows that the website will be one of our biggest and most resource-hungry
challenges should a decision to simplify the University’s name be made. Essentially we will
have to clone our websites and make the changes on versions of our websites that are
these ‘hidden’ websites would be launched and the existing site
There are approximately 160 core university websites. Over the coming weeks we need to
make further recommendations on a reduced list of our core websites to be updated before
those that will be updated the coming years and those which may never be
updated. However, we believe there are some critical pages that must be done including our
recruitment content and key Homesite and Faculty content. Our initial resourcing and budget
estimates are based on this work.
We also note that there will be other technical costs that are related to the website but part of
the ITS budget—for example setting up the clone website, updating our search engine and
other external development costs based on existing services. This work would need to be
scoped as part of the ITS stream of work.
Targeted engagement plan
We recommend informing high influence stakeholders and major donors of the brand
evaluation process at the same time as staff are informed, and shortly before alumni are
informed. This is primarily due to the fact that we would like this group to receive the
message before they receive the alumni e-news (which many will receive). The list
comprises a number of people who have just been involved in the Colmar Brunton research.
As noted in the proposed engagement timeline we recommend the Vice-Chancellor contacts
these individuals via phone or email between 1 and 3 May.
The below list is provided for the Vice-Chancellor’s consideration.
This table sets out proposed timings for communicating the process engaging people in the
discussion about the name simplification, up until a decision is made about future initiatives
at the University Council meeting
Task / Event
Council, SLT, Deans
and Directors aware of
Discuss at HoS/CSU
Directors meeting and
at visits to
Inform Mayor and WCC VC
Inform other VCs via
Mid-April Inform Education New
Mid-April Inform former
Chancellors and VCs
17-Apr Verbal update at
17-Apr Verbal update at
Last week of Inform individuals listed VC
18-29 April VC travel to
April - Early May under targeted
Last week of Inform US and UK
April - Early May friends
Last week of Inform Regional
E&A/VC to join
April - Early May Ambassadors
30-Apr University Council
2-4 May Staff forums
VC (assisted by
7 May VicNews (VC Column)
7-May Alumni e-news (intro
8-May SLT and Deans and
9-May VC visit to School of
15, 16, or 17 May Inform
14-18 May Graduation
23-May VC visit to HPPI
23-May CSU / HoS Forum
31-May VC visit to Health
Ongoing Alumni focus groups
Ongoing Inform other
throughout May organisations with
Victoria in name (eg.
VicBooks, Victoria Law
Students Society etc)
1-Jun VC visit to SoG
7-8 June Universities NZ Away
Days for VCs
12-Jun VC quarterly meeting
13-Jun Benefactors Circle
VC / Development
15-Jun VC regular meeting with VC
15-Jun VC meeting with
18-24 June VC at
EDUData Summit (incl
meeting with QS)
25-Jun University Council
28-Jun NZ-China Board
29-Jun VC visit to School of
Late June University Stakeholder
VC (assisted by
5-Jul Speech to secondary
6-Jul VC visit to School of
Economics and Finance
10-Jul SLT meeting (review
10-Jul VC visit to Wai-te-ata
11-Jul VC visit to School of
19-Jul VC visit to Student
20-Jul University Council
27-Jul University Council
scheduled July date)
Inform key stakeholders SLT members
in course of regular
11-May Catch-up with
30-May Catch-up with
14 June (TBC) Meeting with
Department of Internal
Appendix One Questions (and Answers) - DRAFT
What are you doing?
We are exploring a range of initiatives that will help improve Victoria University’s
international reputation and ensure our world-class research and teaching is properly
Why are you doing it?
There is quite a lot of research that shows that the very high quality of research and teaching
at our University is not as well recognised offshore as it should be. This is problematic for the
University in a number of ways—it affects our international rankings, it means our alumni,
staff and students are denied the career benefits conferred by studying and working at an
esteemed institutions and it makes it harder for us to collaborate and partner with top-ranked
institutions and to compete for international research grants.
How long have you been planning this?
This problem has become increasingly apparent over the last year or so as a result of
research and conversations with visitors to the University, with colleagues at overseas
institutions and with ranking agencies.
When will this happen?
We are still in the research and discussion phase but if it is decided that we should make a
change, we will aim to do that as soon as is practical.
How long will it take?
It will take at least six months for the University to be ready for any name simplification to
take effect. This is because of the significant work required to engage with alumni,
stakeholders, staff and students, to change our website and to consider other ramifications
of a name simplification.
Is this a done deal or is it up for discussion?
The small group of people who have been involved in research and discussion on this matter
are convinced that a name simplification would deliver benefits in terms of our international
reputation. The evidence in support of simplifying our name is powerful and hard to ignore.
As a global civic university though, we work very closely with our communities and listen to
their ideas and contributions.
Who will make the final decisions?
The University Council will make any final decisions about a name simplification.
How much will it cost?
There will of course be costs involved in simplifying our name. We don’t know the exact
amount yet, but I can assure you these costs will be spread over a period of time and we will
be working hard to keep them as low as possible.
How can you justify spending money on a rebrand when many parts of the University are
desperate for more money?
This is not a simple rebrand, but part of a wider critical work programme that is essential to
ensure our University continues to go from strength to strength. We cannot afford not to
make some changes if we are serious about achieving our strategic goals and delivering the
very best to our communities and stakeholders.
Will each area have to pay for their own new materials (i.e stationary/business
These details have not been worked out. However, we are conscious of the tight financial
climate and that areas have limited funds that are not already accounted for.
How extensive is the change you will be making to the brand?
We are looking at simplifying our name but we are not proposing a major rebrand. Our Know
Your Mind domestic recruitment campaign will continue and we will continue to use ‘Capital
Thinking. Globally Minded’.
How will this affect students who have graduated from Victoria University?
There is no impact on the qualifications granted under the name Victoria University of
Wellington. They are still valid and legal.
What will this mean for current students - what name will be on their degree certificates?
We are still working out the details but if the University Council was to approve a name
simplification, from 2019 graduation certificates would be issued with the simplified name of
What are you doing to inform people?
Currently, we are talking to alumni, students, staff and key stakeholders and partners to
share our thinking and get their thoughts.
If we decide to proceed with a name simplification, a comprehensive communications plan
will be developed to ensure everyone who needs to know about the change is told and to
widely publicise our new name in New Zealand and internationally.
How can people have their say?
People can have their say by emailing members of the Senior Leadership Team or the Vice-
Why do rankings matter anyway?
Where our university sits in the international tables not only affects our ability to attract top
students from other countries, but is also taken into account by foreign governments
deciding where to send students on publicly-funded scholarships. Rankings also affect our
ability to recruit world class staff and to form research partnerships and collaborations with
leading universities around the world. In addition, philanthropists prefer to donate to highly
You say you don’t trust rankings so why are you doing this?
Rankings are not without their critics who justifiably question aspects of their methodologies.
However, like it or not, rankings have a significant effect on our international reputation and
therefore on our future.
What happens if the University goes backwards in the rankings?
All of our research and discussions indicate that a name simplification will improve the
University’s profile and hence its rankings.
How long do you think it will take to see the effects of this decision?
Name simplification is just one aspect of a wider programme of work designed to enhance
our international reputation. We expect to start seeing the impact of this work programme
within the next 12 months.
Do you expect staff, alumni or students to be angry about this?
We understand that many people feel a sense of attachment to the name Victoria. However,
we are also finding that once people know the reasons for the proposed change, they
understand its importance. The name Victoria embodies a lot of history and heritage for our
University and we will be looking for ways of honouring and protecting that.
What do you think the reaction will be from organisations around Wellington or New
We expect a very positive reception from organisations around Wellington and New Zealand.
The name simplification aligns us more closely with New Zealand’s capital city and also
positions the University well to attract more partnerships, students and staff, all of which will
be good for Wellington and New Zealand.
Have other universities made this sort of decision in the past? What have you learned from
Yes other universities have successfully done similar things in the past. For example, the
former Victoria University of Manchester became the University of Manchester in 2004 for
some of the same reasons we are now considering this move here.
Will this affect domestic student recruitment?
We don’t expect any negative impact on domestic student recruitment from the change.
Have you considered spending the money on marketing your current brand, rather than on
No matter how effectively we market the current brand, there continues to be confusion
about who we are because there are a number of other universities with a similar name.
Simplifying the name is the best way of promoting the quality of our brand internationally.