Members of Council
Professor Grant Guilford, Vice-Chancellor
24 September 2018
Simplification of the University’s Legal Name to the University
REF TO STRAT PLAN
On 27 July 2018, the University Council made a unanimous draft decision:
1. to make a recommendation to the Minister of Education under section 162(5)
of the Education Act 1989 that the legal name of the University be changed
from the Victoria University of Wellington to University of Wellington;
2. subject to the Minister’s approval of a change in name to University of
Wel ington, to change the University’s Māori name from Te Whare Wānanga o
te Ūpoko o te Ika a Māui to Te Herenga Waka; and
3. subject to the Minister’s approval of a change in name to University of
Wellington, to maintain the use and heritage of the word ‘Victoria’ in a
meaningful way by the ongoing use of the word Victoria in the life of the
Following the release of the draft decision, the Council sought further and final
feedback on the draft decision. Feedback was open until 5:00pm on Monday 27
August. Late feedback was still accepted for management analysis until 10:00am on
Tuesday 28 August. All feedback, including feedback after this date, was provided to
This paper sets out:
the background to, and summary of reasons for, my recommendations,
the statutory context and considerations for your decision;
a summary of the consultation process followed and the legal requirements for
a summary of the consultation feedback and University management’s
consideration of that feedback.
In 2014, the University community developed a shared vision for the long-term
success of this University. It set us on an unreservedly ambitious path, in keeping with
the confidence and aspirations of the University’s Council, staff, students, alumni and
communities. In developing our Strategic Plan, together we defined our vision to be a
world-leading capital city university and one of the great global-civic universities.
As a community, we also defined strategies to help us achieve our aims. These
included choosing areas of academic emphasis befitting a capital city university,
giving close attention to the quality of research, teaching and student experience, and
focusing on inclusivity, our engagement with our communities and our intellectual
influence in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond.
Together we rallied behind the concept of civic engagement, which provides the
opportunity to enrich cultural and intellectual life in New Zealand and to lead thinking
on major societal and environmental issues. It positions the University to play an
important role in the facilitation of innovation, entrepreneurship and sustainable
economic and social development.
Consistent with that civic university tradition, the University must be closely linked with
New Zealand’s capital city. Rather than being a university in a capital city, we need to
be a capital city university—one that lives and breathes its capital city location. Our
staff and students rely on the privilege of access to the nation’s archived heritage, its
cultural taonga and our strong and unique links with government departments and
agencies, political leaders, business, iwi, the judiciary, research institutions, cultural
and environmental organisations and the diplomatic community.
In order to continue on the path toward realising the University’s shared and unique
vision, we began considering whether changing the University’s name could be an
important first step in a wider programme to further enhance our global reputation.
Differentiation and improved international reputation are both critically important to
enhancing our international competitiveness. This, in turn, ensures that we provide
high quality learning and research outcomes, and secure the University’s long-term
The proposed name also places us as the prominent University in Wellington, and it
has the recognition, differentiation and memorability required for our future.
We sought appropriate professional advice and, in May of this year, began discussing
a potential name change with our staff, students, alumni and stakeholders – a process
that included a robust period of formal consultation and ultimately culminated in this
paper to Council.
The name change is not the solution in itself rather it is the enabler of other activities
to be undertaken by the University to grow engagement with Wellington, build
international reputation and achieve the ambitious goals in our strategic plan.
This process has left me in no doubt that realising our ambitions in an increasingly
competitive and financially challenging sector requires the University to have a name
that is both aligned with Wellington and more distinctive internationally: University of
I recommend to Council:
1. That, under section 162(5) of the Education Act 1989, the Council recommend
to the Minister of Education that the legal name of the University be changed
from the 'Victoria University of Wellington' to 'University of Wellington'.
2. That the Chancellor be authorised to make this recommendation on behalf of
3. That provided Council’s recommendation is approved by the Minister of
a) the University’s Māori name be changed from Te Whare Wānanga o te
Ūpoko o te Ika a Māui to Te Herenga Waka, with effect from the
effective date of the Gazette
notice published by the Minister under
section 162(5) of the Education Act 1989;
b) the use and heritage of the word 'Victoria' be maintained in a
meaningful way by the ongoing use of the word Victoria in the life of the
c) the Vice-Chancellor be authorised to do all things necessary or
desirable to implement the change to the University’s name.
Summary of reasons for my recommendations
Adopting a distinctive, simple name which is descriptive of our identity and place in
the world is fundamental to ensuring we can attain the highest standards of
excellence and deliver our ambitious goals, as set out in our Strategic Plan.
The name University of Wel ington is unique, aligns with our identity as New Zealand’s
capital city university, and explicitly links the University with our city and region.
Great cities have great universities that share their name. This common bond results
in the achievements of the one building the reputation of the other. We are determined
that all of the communities of which we are a part will benefit from our world-class
research and teaching programmes. In turn, a vibrant and successful Wellington
offering an enhanced student experience is critical to the University’s future.
The name University of Wellington also more accurately captures our role as New
Zealand’s globally ranked capital city university than our current name and, in
particular, its pervasively used abbreviations of ‘Vic’, ‘Victoria’ and ‘Victoria University’.
It creates a sense of partnership with Wellington—a critical component of our global-
civic University aspiration. It also highlights our pre-eminence in Wellington relative to
other universities, which operate branches in our city, and prevents any
misapprehension that we are a subsidiary of Victoria University (in Melbourne).
Our financial sustainability and long-term viability—let alone our ambition to be one of
the great global-civic universities—cannot be assured on domestic tuition fees and
Government funding alone.
We must build an even greater global reputation. One that strengthens our
international competitiveness and that thereby reduces the likelihood that the current
financial pressures and disruptions affecting the tertiary sector will set us on a path to
mediocrity. To strengthen our global reputation, we must have a distinctive name that
stands on its own in the more than 100 countries from which we recruit our staff and
students, and in which our graduates work.
I consider that this proposal is financially responsible and an efficient use of
resources. The initial financial investments are outweighed by the long-term economic
benefits of the University gaining a clear and distinctive international identity and
It will enable activities to secure our economic future form high-quality partnerships,
attract international students, increase overseas research funding and philanthropy
and recruit world-leading staff. These outcomes will support the University in fostering
high quality learning and research outcomes for our students and staff and attaining
even higher standards of excellence into the future.
Based on the evidence before me, I am in no doubt that the simplicity, clarity and
descriptive nature of the name University of Wellington will enable us to achieve these
outcomes. It is a crucial foundation to a bigger and bolder programme of work to
enhance and leverage our international reputation and competitiveness and ensure
our prestige accurately reflects the calibre and achievements of our staff, students
The above is why I recommend the change of the University’s name to University of
I also recommend the adoption of the Māori name Te Herenga Waka. Our intention is
to provide a more meaningful name in te reo Māori than just a simple translation of the
legal name. The wharenui, To Tumu Herenga Waka (the mooring post of canoes)
provides a non-iwi, non-denominational name that offers a unique analogy to draw
communities together and anchor them at the heart of the University.
I do not underestimate the challenges involved in undertaking this change. I also
acknowledge there are many for whom the current name holds deep significance. It is
also true, however, that as Vice-Chancellor my first responsibility must be to the future
of this great institution and it is with that in mind that I make these recommendations.
As with any change there are risks involved. However, I am confident the risks can be
effectively managed and that we will deliver the benefits this change offers to the
University while protecting and enhancing the interests of our students and graduates.
The depth of this debate has made us better prepared for what lies ahead and we
sincerely wish that all of our community, whether supportive or against this change,
continue to feel part of their university.
Council can have confidence that management understands what is required to
implement not only this change, but also to develop a broader programme focused on
improving engagement with our region and enhancing our international reputation.
The change of name is a fundamental first step, and will be followed by
implementation of a range of other initiatives to enhance civic engagement increase
international reputation, and ensure we are the best University that we can be.
In making the above recommendations I also note that, subsequent to the changes,
the University as a legal entity will continue without pause, its role in society will be
unchanged and the institution’s proud legacy wil not be rewritten. We wil be
launching a programme of work to ensure that our history and legacy is honoured and
Further detail on the above can be found in the Draft Decision paper and in the
supporting material released alongside that paper.
Finally, I would like to thank every person who has provided feedback and to
acknowledge the detailed work that many have undertaken to fully participate in the
process. This feedback has highlighted the depth of commitment and sense of loyalty
and pride that we all feel in this University.
Professor Grant Guilford
Statutory context and considerations
Statutory process for changing the University’s name
The power to change a university’s legal name is vested in the Minister of Education
under section 162(5) of the Education Act 1989. This states:
The Minister may, on the recommendation of the council of the institution concerned,
change the name of an institution by notice published in the Gazette
Victoria University of Wellington is an ‘institution’ for the purposes of the Education Act
1989. Section 162(5) allows the University’s name to be changed notwithstanding
section 3(1) of the Victoria University of Wellington Act 1961 which states:
For the advancement of knowledge and the dissemination and maintenance thereof by
teaching and research there shall be a University to be called the Victoria University of
The section 162(5) process has been used on 14 previous occasions in relation to
other tertiary education institutions in New Zealand, most recently in 2016. Statutory framework for the Council's decision
In considering this recommendation, the Council must act reasonably, in the best
interests of the University, and in accordance with section 181 of the Education Act
1989 which sets out the duties of councils:
It is the duty of the council of an institution, in the performance of its
functions and the exercise of its powers,—
to strive to ensure that the institution attains the highest
standards of excellence in education, training, and research:
to acknowledge the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi:
to encourage the greatest possible participation by the
communities served by the institution so as to maximise the
educational potential of all members of those communities with
particular emphasis on those groups in those communities that
are under-represented among the students of the institution:
to ensure that the institution does not discriminate unfairly
against any person:
to ensure that the institution operates in a financially responsible
manner that ensures the efficient use of resources and maintains
the institution’s long-term viability:
to ensure that proper standards of integrity, conduct, and
the public interest; and
the well-being of students attending the institution—
Also relevant to Council’s decision is section 159AAA of the Education Act 1989,
which sets out the overarching objects of Act regarding tertiary education. The Council
must be guided by these objects in reaching its decision.
The object of this Part, Parts 13A to 18, a
nd Part 19
(which relate to
tertiary education), and of the provisions of Parts 18A and 20 to 24
relate to tertiary education, is to foster and develop a tertiary education
fosters, in ways that are consistent with the efficient use of
national resources, high quality learning and research outcomes,
equity of access, and innovation; and
contributes to the development of cultural and intellectual life in
New Zealand; and
responds to the needs of learners, stakeholders, and the nation,
in order to foster a skilled and knowledgeable population over
contributes to the sustainable economic and social development
of the nation; and
strengthens New Zealand’s knowledge base and enhances the
contribution of New Zealand’s research capabilities to national
economic development, innovation, international
competitiveness, and the attainment of social and environmental
provides for a diversity of teaching and research that fosters,
throughout the system, the achievement of international
standards of learning and, as relevant, scholarship.
Section 162(5), which enables the Minister to change the University’s name by Gazette
does not contain any express mandatory considerations that the Minister
must consider in exercising the power under this section. Like the Council, the
Minister must be guided by section 159AAA. The Minister must also consider the
wider scheme of the Education Act 1989 and section 160 in particular, which states
that the object of the provisions of the Education Act 1989 relating to institutions:
“is to give [institutions] as much independence and freedom to make academic,
operational, and management decisions as is consistent with the nature of the
services they provide, the efficient use of national resources, the national interest, and
the demands of accountability”.
Section 161(4) is also relevant as it requires the Minister (and the Council) to give
effect to the intention of Parliament expressed in section 161(1) that “academic
freedom and the autonomy of institutions are to be preserved and enhanced”.
In July 2018, the Ministry of Education published a set of criteria that the Minister
intends to have regard to in assessing a recommendation.1 The Minister is entitled to
develop these criteria to guide the assessment of Council’s recommendation.
1 Tertiary Education Institution Name Change Criteria – available at
However, in doing so, he may not improperly fetter the exercise of his discretionary
power under section 162(5) or give weight to criteria inconsistent with the statutory
purpose and objectives. Further legislative steps
If the recommended name change proceeds, the Victoria University of Wellington Act
1961 and a small number of other pieces of legislation that refer directly to ‘Victoria
University of Wellington’ wil need to be amended following the Minister’s decision.
This could be done by inclusion of the relevant amendments in a future Statutes
Amendment Bill or Education Act Amendment Bill or, potentially, through an Order in
Council from the Governor-General on recommendation of the Minister under section
301A of the Education Act 1989. We would discuss these options with officials from
the Ministry of Education.
Summary of process undertaken
While not required by the Education Act 1989 to consult, the University has chosen to
undertake a consultation process prior to these recommendations.
An outline of all consultation steps undertaken by the University since February 2018,
including both the initial feedback period (1 May – 8 June) and the formal consultation
period following the draft decision (27 July – 27 August), is set out in Appendix A.
Below is a brief summary of the consultation process since Council made its draft
The draft decision was notified to staff via an all staff email on 27 July
and on the University website. Staff forums were held on 17, 20, 21 and 22
August during which the Vice-Chancellor explained the rationale behind the
draft decision, engaged in discussions and encouraged staff to provide
feedback. In addition to the forums, feedback was encouraged via emails,
meetings and internal newsletters.
The draft decision was notified to students via 39 posts on various
social media channels aimed at students, the University website and on digital
display boards on all campuses. All students who provided feedback through
the earlier process were directly emailed. Student forums were held on 6
August and 16 August. As with the staff forums, the Vice-Chancellor explained
the rationale behind the draft decision, engaged in discussions and
encouraged students to provide feedback. In addition to the forums, various
other student-specific channels were used to encourage feedback and the
Vice-Chancellor met and spoke with a number of student representatives and
leaders. The draft decision was also communicated to students by VUWSA.
The draft decision was notified to alumni via the alumni enews (an
electronic newsletter sent to more than 50,000 alumni) on 27 July, 11 posts on
alumni specific social media channels, a press release on 27 July, and
advertisements in the Dominion Post newspaper on 4, 6, 11, 18, 22 and 25
August, all of which included details on how to give feedback. In addition, all
alumni who provided feedback through the earlier process were directly
emailed. Public forums were held on 6, 7 and 8 August. During these forums,
all of which were more than two hours long, the Vice-Chancellor explained the
rationale behind the draft decision, engaged in discussions and encouraged
people to provide feedback.
The University identifies key stakeholders as decision-makers
and advisors with whom we interact regularly. Included in this group are
individuals such as mayors and local body councillors, members of parliament,
trustees of the Victoria University of Wellington Foundation, members of the
University’s advisory boards, prior Chancellors and Vice-Chancellors, and
leaders of the public and commercial organisations with which we have day-to-
day interactions in the conduct of our mission. Stakeholders were invited to
attend a briefing on the draft decision on 22 August, which was cancelled due
to only receiving one RSVP. The Vice-Chancellor personally phoned a number
of stakeholders to discuss the draft decision and seek their feedback. The
Vice-Chancellor was also invited to give a presentation to Wellington Club
members and their guests on 20 August and attended the Wellington Mayoral
Overall, ten forums (including a presentation at the Wellington Club) were held. The
four staff forums were reasonably well attended, with total attendance being
approximately 180 staff. In total, the two student forums attracted approximately 80
students and the three public forums approximately 100 people. Legal requirements for a consultation process
An effective consultation process requires that:
prior notice of the issue and proposed decision is given to those who may
have an interest in the decision;
reasonable information is provided to those being consulted, including the
reasons for the proposed decision and the material relied upon by the decision
those consulted are given a fair opportunity to provide feedback; and
proper consideration is given to the feedback received before a decision is
Consultation does not require negotiation or reaching a consensus. Nor does it
require a detailed argument with, or response to, every piece of feedback provided.
Rather, it requires a decision to be made after giving proper consideration to the
To enable the Council to do this, all feedback was provided to Council on 31 August
and Members of Council held a workshop on 17 September 2018. The purpose of the
workshop, which ran for over three hours, was to assist members of Council to
engage with the feedback, consider the points made, and ask any questions of
relevant senior staff. University management, including the Vice-Chancellor, left the
discussion after 75 minutes to enable Council members to discuss without
Criticisms of the consultation process
A number of submitters in the formal consultation raised concerns with the
consultation process. These included:
Consultation wasn’t genuine because the decision was predetermined (or was
a ‘fait accompli’).
The University should have conducted a poll, survey or referendum.
The University should have attempted to reach a consensus view.
The mechanisms used by the University to notify, and seek the views of, those
consulted were ineffective.
The Vice-Chancellor did not have a genuinely open mind on this matter.
The Vice-Chancellor was an inappropriate person to receive feedback given
that he did not have a genuinely open mind on the matter and is also the
employer of all University staff.
The consultation period was too short.
Relevant supporting data and information was not provided.
The University should have initially consulted on whether or not the name
In addition, a number of people proposed alternative consultation processes (including
making references to processes run by, or mechanisms used by, other sectors or
organisations—including Select Committees, the Law Commission and the use of
We have considered these issues and are satisfied that the process adopted was
robust. In particular, we note that:
In making its draft decision, the Council formed and expressed a preliminary
view on a proposed name change. Such a preliminary decision does not, in
and of itself, create predetermination. What is required is that the Council, as
the decision-maker, consider the matters outlined in this paper, the feedback
provided, and the other information it has considered as part of the process
with an open mind.
The Council is entitled to determine the form of consultation process and is not
required to undertake a poll, survey or referendum.
The University used a wide range of mechanisms to notify the proposed name
change and seek feedback, as detailed. There is no requirement for
notifications to be in any particular form; the University’s mechanisms included
direct emails, meetings, e-newsletters, social media posts and advertising.
We consider that sufficient information was provided to enable people to be
adequately informed. A draft decision paper was released on 27 July and
placed on the University’s website along with a range of supporting
information. Following that, further explanatory material was disseminated
through three public forums, two student forums, four staff forums and
advertisements in the Dominion Post.
Sufficient time was provided and people were given a fair opportunity to
comment on the draft decision. The consultation period was extended from an
initial period of just over two weeks to just over four weeks.
There was a particular concern expressed in submissions that the Vice-
Chancellor cannot participate in this decision with an open mind. As the
Council is aware, it was considered appropriate that the Vice-Chancellor
explain the reasons behind the draft decision, respond to criticism of the draft
decision and the process, and encourage submissions on the draft decision.
Having done so, the Vice-Chancellor acknowledges that he may no longer be
able to bring a genuinely open mind to the matter and will not participate in
Council’s discussion of, or vote on, this matter (other than responding to
questions asked by members of Council). Given this, the Vice-Chancellor also
did not participate in the Council workshop on 17 September beyond
answering initial questions from members of Council before Council moved to
a Council-only discussion (which the Vice-Chancellor and other members of
University management did not attend).
It is correct that the Vice-Chancellor is the employer of all staff. However, the
Council requested that email feedback on the draft decision be sent to
[email address] rather than to the Vice-Chancellor and written feedback
be addressed to the Chancellor. This reflects that it was Council’s draft
decision and it was the Council, not the Vice-Chancellor, seeking feedback.
Some feedback was received from submitters expressing support for the
consultation process undertaken.
The University has been advised throughout this process by law firms Simpson
Grierson and Chapman Tripp.
At the conclusion of the formal consultation process, the University received 2,053
email, phone, verbal or written submissions. Of these, 1,379 were from alumni, 219
from staff, 185 from students, 86 from stakeholders and 184 from people who we
could not assign to a particular group.
Feedback provided to the Council
A full record of all email, phone and written feedback received via consultation
channels and links to the University’s public social media accounts containing
comments was made available for review by Council members on 31 August 2018.
Late submissions were provided on 14 September 2018.
Email, phone and written submissions
In analysing the feedback, people were assigned to a group based on how they
identified themselves. Where a person could be classified into more than one group
(i.e. they identified as an alumni and a staff member), that person was classified into
the group that they identified as their primary group. Where a person could not be
identified, they have been classified as ‘public/unidentified’.
Some submissions were signed by more than one person. For processing purposes
these submissions have been counted once and assigned to the person who sent the
feedback. However, Council members were provided copies of these submission in
full which included the details of those who co-signed.
The University has also received a change.org petition titled ‘Keep Victoria in Victoria
University of Wellington's name’ containing 6,128 signatures. This petition was
attached to the submission of an alumnus and has been provided to Council.
The table below summarises the volume of feedback received by the University from
27 July 2018 to 10:00am 28 August 2018. Late submissions are not included in the
below, but were provided separately to Council.
We note that the submissions come from only a small minority of the total potential
pool of staff, students and alumni.
Social media comments
In addition to feedback received through the formal process, there was also wide
public discussion of the draft decision, including on social media. Social media
responses on the University’s social media pages were predominantly opposed to the
proposal—over 430 comments were made.
Other external poll results provided in submissions
Submissions received from the Tertiary Education Union (TEU), Victoria University of
Wel ington Students’ Association (VUWSA), and the Victoria University of Wellington
Law Students’ Society (VUWLSS) contained results from pol s run by those
organisations. Below are those results.
2 This is the approximate number contacted via e-newsletter.
Note there are people who have taken part in these polls and petitions who have also
provided formal submissions. Polls and petitions run by persons external to the
University and which were not provided to the University have not been included.
Consideration of consultation feedback
Prior to making our recommendations, we have reviewed and considered all
submissions in detail.
We acknowledge there are arguments made against the recommendation, and there
is a strength of feeling in opposition to this proposal. However, having considered the
submissions, we remain of the view that the University’s future and strategic vision is
best secured by simplifying our name to ‘University of Wel ington’.
To enable members of Council to consider these matters for themselves, we have set
out these themes and provided our analysis below.
Key themes from feedback
In identifying themes, we applied a low minimum threshold—the themes outlined
below appear in at least two per cent of the written submissions (including the
comments accompanying the change.org petition).
Feedback on the consultation process itself has been addressed above.
Themes considered in the draft decision paper
The following themes discussed in the draft decision paper were also prominent in
feedback during the second formal round of consultation. We have re-considered the
themes and each of the submissions in light of the draft decision and remain
comfortable with the overall assessment in the draft decision document.
These themes are as follows:
The name Victoria holds value due to its prestigious history and how it
distinguishes the University from others
The feedback included concerns that the proposal would sacrifice the prestige and
point of difference associated with the University due to the lost inclusion of ‘Victoria’
in its name. This feedback was the most common amongst those opposed to the
proposal, particularly among alumni.3
Victoria University of Wellington has a proud history and those associated with the
University understand its role, value and distinctive strengths. We note that the
University’s role in society will be unchanged and we are confident the institution’s
legacy will remain with a changed name.
Regarding the comments about Victoria distinguishing the University from others, we
agree that Victoria (like Wellington) has distinguishing characteristics in the New
3 A table analysing the themes is provided at the end of this section.
Zealand market. However, in the global market we note a number of other
universities also use Victoria prominently in their name and our analysis shows that
the name ‘Victoria’ has not distinguished the University from others globally.
If the name change is approved, the University will establish an initiative to ensure
that the legacy of the name is respected and honoured. As previously outlined, we
intend the initiative to be led by a senior academic and may include the use of
‘Victoria’ in our awards, annual lectures, symposia, rooms and buildings.
Victoria University of Wellington is well regarded overseas; this change
will have a negative impact on recognition and association with this
A number of submitters stated that the University has a strong reputation overseas
and that a change in name will negatively impact on this. This view was particularly
strong among alumni.
We acknowledge that any name change will need to be carefully managed to
minimise the risk of negative impact during transition.
Professional advice from University ranking agencies indicates this is a relatively low
risk. Marketing professionals at QS and THE were confident that simplifying the
University’s name was a good idea based on their experience of similar changes
made by other universities.
Our research and advice also suggest that simplifying and clarifying our name will
assist with the process of building positively on the University’s international standing.
The use of Victoria in the name results in misidentification and/or
misappropriation of work; and ‘Victoria’ is overused in the world and not
A number of submitters agreed with our assessment that ‘Victoria’ was overused and
insufficiently distinctive and that there was a risk of misidentification or
misappropriation of academic work. These two themes featured strongly in the
submissions made by staff who supported the proposal.
A number of submitters also provided their own examples or evidence of problems
faced with the current name. These highlighted concerns with the use of the name
offshore and confusion created from the prominence of Victoria in our name.
Alumni, staff and students are invested in the Victoria name and have a
strong connection to the current name
A number of staff, and many alumni and students, expressed their personal
connections to the existing name.
We acknowledge that the current name holds significance for a number of people. In
many, but not all, instances this significance appeared to relate to a concern regarding
the University’s history and prestige being linked to its name.
On a practical level, it should be noted that previous graduates would continue to be
graduates of Victoria University of Wellington and would not be required to replace
their official certificate, unless they wish to.
The proposed name is modern and progressive
There was a view among some submitters that the name change created the
impression of a modern and progressive university and/or aligns better to the future
direction of the University.
This theme was mentioned by a number of the staff who supported the proposal and a
number of stakeholders.
Concerns with Wellington as an identifier and that the name University of
Wellington is very generic
A number of submitters expressed concern that the proposal would not have the
intended effect of enhancing our identity and reputation. Many commented that there
are a number of other ‘Wellingtons’ in the world, or other universities in Wellington,
which the University could be confused with. This feedback was largely provided by
alumni of the University.
We do not consider that this is supported by our research and analysis.
There are no other universities with this name in the world, and no other cities named
Wellington with universities. Of all the places named ‘Wellington’ in the world,
Wellington, New Zealand is the largest and the only capital city.
The enhanced focus on the word Wellington in the proposed simplified name is
consistent with our civic university ethos and our positioning as New Zealand’s
globally ranked capital city university. These commitments are outlined in our strategic
plan. The change allows us to leverage the considerable investment made by
Wel ington City Council and others in marketing the word ‘Wellington’ on an
We are also by far the largest university in Wellington. Other universities only operate
branches in Wellington.
Some submitters also commented that Wellington itself has low recognition, so linking
our name to the city is not a good thing. We do not agree that Wel ington’s reputation
wil hold the University back. As New Zealand’s capital city university our fortunes are
tied and we believe that the University and the city can continue to grow the reputation
of each other.
A smaller number of submitters also noted that distance from the city name could be
good, in case the city has reputational issues itself. We do not agree and believe
together our joint identities can achieve more than our individual efforts can.
The proposed name provides a stronger link to our geographical location
A number of submitters considered that the suggested name offered greater
connection to Wellington and our geographic location. These submitters emphasised
the importance of this clear tie to Wellington.
Conversely many other submissions urged the University to use the current name of
the University in full to achieve the same effect. This is discussed later in this section
under the theme heading ‘Alternative measures should be considered instead of a
Related to this theme a number of stakeholders who support the proposal are leaders
within the Wellington community and represent organisations tasked with ensuring the
vibrancy and prosperity of the region. This list includes, but isn’t limited to, the region’s
Mayors and the Wellington Regional Economic Development Agency.
It should also be noted that a number of prominent Wellingtonians also oppose the
proposal and this group includes some city councillors.
Potential impact on the University’s domestic brand as Victoria is well
regarded in New Zealand
A number of submitters highlighted the University’s strong domestic brand and
commented this could be impacted negatively by a name change. We acknowledge
this concern and consider that it would be mitigated by the careful and considered
implementation of any change.
We would ensure ongoing consistency in our domestic positioning and recruitment
campaign materials. Any changes beyond the name and logo would be kept to a
minimum. We know from regular student surveys that the top four motivators for
students choosing to study here are; that it offers the best option for the programme
the student wants to study; that it is close to where family is; the lifestyle of living in
Wellington, and University reputation.
We believe the name simplification proposal would not impact negatively on these
motivations. Also, domestic students have relatively rich sources of information about
the University which includes parents, careers advisors, peers, alumni and knowledge
and awareness gathered over time through factors such as University visits and
discussions with supervisors. These sources, together with strong University
communications, will provide sufficient context, making a simplified name a minor
consideration for prospective domestic students.
We also consider that a name change is unlikely to undermine our domestic
reputation more generally.
We are intending the change to be positive, to more closely link our University with
our city, its vibrancy and excellent international reputation. We consider this should be
further enhanced by the proposed inclusion of Te Herenga Waka.
Renaming will have little impact, and any change in prospects of the
University cannot be attributed to a name change
A number of submissions consider that the renaming will have little impact and any
change in prospects of the University could not be attributed to a name change. Here,
many submitted that people would still refer to the University as ‘Victoria’ or ‘Vic’ even
after a name change.
Professional advice suggests that simplifying and clarifying the name of the University
wil have a positive impact on the University’s international prominence. This advice is
supported by the research and analysis we have undertaken and the discussions with
other institutions that have experienced such changes.
As described in the draft decision, the name simplification project is a foundational
step in a wider programme of work the University is undertaking to further improve
international reputation and enhance the University’s financial sustainability.
Concern with the costs of a name change, with funds better used
The second most common theme among those submitters opposed to the proposal
related to the cost of the change. The responses often cited other areas they viewed
this money being better spent on.
In our view, the financial investment in the name simplification is prudent and
appropriate. We consider that the proposal is an investment in the University’s future
as a world-renowned university. Further financial expenditure on international
reputation would be more effective and directed in areas to result in additional
If the name change is approved, the costs will
be managed prudently with the level of
expenditure to be kept within assessed benefits.
The expenditure in this area also does not detract from our commitment to providing
excellent teaching, research and student support services across the University.
Feedback regarding the proposed Māori name
Some of the supporting submissions referred approvingly to the proposed Māori
name, Te Herenga Waka. This idea also received support from some submitters who
were otherwise opposed to the proposal to change the University’s legal name.
A small number of submitters did not like the new Māori name, many preferring the
existing Māori name instead.
Opposition to having a Māori name was infrequent and its inclusion is important to
reflect our culture, values and our obligations under the Treaty of Waitangi.
Alternative name suggestions
A number of submitters provided alternate potential names for the University including
Victoria University New Zealand, University of Aotearoa, University of Poneke and
We remain of the view that University of Wellington is the most appropriate name.
New themes from submissions on the Draft Decision paper
There were six themes that arose in the submissions that did not appear in the earlier
round of feedback or the draft decision paper. These are outlined below.
The arguments and reasons presented in the draft decision paper are not
Many submitters analysed the draft decision document or provided submissions with
references made to other public critiques of the draft decision materials. These
critiques ranged from short summary statements regarding the submitters’ reviews of
the material to detailed consideration of multiple parts of the document. As well as the
concerns discussed in the section above, these also included concerns with:
o Inadequate evidence of name confusion;
o Inadequate evidence of change in international student
o Concern with the naming principles presented, for example the value of a
distinctive name, two nouns are better than three;
o Concern with the use of Google tools for analysis;
o Concern with the Colmar Brunton analysis, both in the analysis approach
and conclusions from the research;
o Concern benefits are overstated;
o Concern costs are understated;
o Concern with references to the University of Manchester;
o Concern with the lack of cost benefit analysis or discounted cash flow
analysis shown in the presentation; and
o Other potential options to improve international reputation without changing
the name (e.g. changing emphasis of Wellington in the current branding).
We have thought carefully about these concerns and after review of this material we
continue to be comfortable with the research, analysis and professional advice we
have received. In particular, management is satisfied that the evidence about the
shortcomings of our current name is inescapable and that the benefits of improved
name clarity, distinctiveness and memorability are compelling. The word Victoria is not
unique in the tertiary sector. To gain cut through in an international context we rely on
our name being used in full, something which is uncommon and far from controllable.
By removing one word from our current name we are left with a brand that is unique,
clear and distinct. It also reduces the number of variants which can be used when
attributing our research and success.
Concern costs of the name change are understated
As part of planning for any potential implementation of the name change, we have
conducted a detailed assessment of key cost areas for the change. These estimated
costs have been detailed in the draft decision document where funding would be
required for external costs above levels that can be re-prioritised in existing budgets.
For some items, such as signage, we have engaged in detailed costings with third
party providers and are confident that the costs to the University of these changes will
be able to be managed by reprioritising existing maintenance budgets. These costs
are not in the order of magnitude expressed by many from examples at United States
universities, and reflect our commitment to effective and efficient development of
signage at our campuses.
We have also compared the overall costs of our planned name change with publicly
available information from other universities that have planned and/or implemented
such a change. Our figures for the name change cost are in line with those who have
provided costs for the name change alone, these predominately being examples from
the United Kingdom.
It should be noted that the name change is part of a wider programme of work
planned to increase the University’s international reputation. The costs provided for
the name change are exclusive of any wider programme costs. Concern benefits of the name change are overstated
We recognise that many of the financial benefits of a name change will be indirect.
These will come from a closer connection to our city and our vision, and through the
benefits of enhanced international name clarity, distinctiveness and memorability.
The name change will also provide a critical component in the development of the
University’s international reputation, and enable the effective delivery of other
components of work within our international reputation programme. This programme
is expected to deliver significant benefits to the University. If quantified in international
student revenues alone, which is to significantly downplay the wider benefits
international students and reputation will bring, these would be measured in the tens
of millions of dollars annually to the University. The name change will not achieve this
on its own, rather it is a key enabler for other initiatives to effectively grow the
University’s international reputation.
Given the nature of these benefits we have also not sought to subjectively quantify
them in a discounted cash flow analysis. Rather we have provided discussion of
benefits, costs and risks through relevant sections of the draft decision document.
Complaint regarding research
Concerns were raised with the Colmar Brunton research. A complaint was lodged with
the Research Association of New Zealand (RANZ) alleging that the way the research
had been designed, conducted and reported breached RANZ Code of Practice.
RANZ found this complaint to be without merit in a final decision issued mid-
September 2018. A statement on RANZ’s website states:
On 31 July, a complaint was lodged against Colmar Brunton alleging they
breached the Code of Practice in a number of ways. After review of all the
information provided by the Complainant and Colmar Brunton, including
consultation with subject matter experts in Statistics, the Professional
Standards Group found the complaint to be without merit. Colmar Brunton
was found to have complied with the Code of Practice and to have
conducted the research in line with industry standards in all respects that
were brought to our attention.
The full text of RANZ’s final decision, together with a letter of objection from the
complainant, has been provided to members of Council.
Alternative measures should be considered instead of a name change
A number of submitters suggested alternate measures that could be used to increase
the international reputation of the University. There were two key areas:
1. Activities outside of naming and branding to increase international reputation,
for example targeted research funding, conferences, targeted outreach and
increased international marketing; and
2. Changes that could be made to the current branding without changing the
name, for example greater emphasis of Wellington in the logo, or introducing
New Zealand to the logo.
We agree with the first point above; there are other activities we can undertake as a
University to improve our international reputation.
As described in the draft decision, the name simplification project is just one part of a
wider programme of work the University is undertaking to improve its international
reputation. This programme of work is investigating and implementing a series of
initiatives targeted to further increase the international prominence of the University
and increase international name recognition. This programme includes work on
bilateral relationships, improving our research publication credentials, international
promotion and other multiple streams to help distinguish ourselves internationally and
improve international perceptions of the University by potential staff, students,
funders, donors, alumni and other stakeholders.
We believe the name change is an essential first step, by providing name recognition,
differentiation and memorability to help us deliver on the University’s positioning and
vision, and to make other activities in the programme more effective. Advice from
ranking agencies QS and THE, and from Assignment, the Wellington-based branding
and communications company, support this.
Regarding the second point above—potential changes to our branding without a name
change—our research, analysis and external advice suggest that investment in
promoting the current name would be ineffective given our current name’s lack of
clarity and memorability. The importance of including New Zealand in our brand
however, has been well canvassed and would be taken on board regardless of the
outcome of this process.
A name change would result in further confusion/loss of reputation/loss
of prestige and this risk has not been correctly accounted for in the draft
A number of submitters have highlighted that the potential risk of loss of reputation
and prestige have not been accounted for sufficiently in the draft decision document.
In the short term, any change in name would need to be carefully communicated to
key groups prior to the change taking place.
University name changes are not uncommon. Both the ranking agencies and the
publication databases have advised that they have well tested processes for
managing institutional name changes through use of algorithms and aliases that
ensure accurate collation of the outputs of a newly-named institution with the outputs
produced under the current name.
Longer term, we consider that reduced confusion about our name, and the ability to
reflect and promote the work of our community, will ensure our prestige accurately
matches our capability.
Concerns around degree value and employment consequences.
Some submitters, particularly current students, expressed concern about the impact
that a name change could potentially have on the value of their degree and
associated consequences for finding employment.
University name changes are not uncommon. However, the University would carefully
work through these concerns to ensure that people are not disadvantaged from this
Prior to any name change taking effect, we are planning that all contactable alumni
would receive a formal letter from the University outlining the name change. This letter
would also serve as a formal document that could be used by graduates, alongside
existing documentation, to verify the change of name for the University.
When employers contact the University to verify qualifications, we would also confirm
a graduate’s status as a graduate of Victoria University of Wel ington or University of
Wellington. Currently, virtually all internet searches for the University of Wellington
and Victoria University of Wellington are directed to our website. We would ensure
this continues, so employers could easily contact us for verification checks. There will
be no change to other contact details for the University such as phone numbers and
There would be no official need for graduates to replace their qualification certificates,
but some may choose to do so.
Concern about potential acronyms and what would replace ‘Vic’.
Many submitters expressed their personal connections to the shortened name ‘Vic’
(as well as ‘VUW’) and their concerns about any replacement acronym associated
with the new name.
We acknowledge these concerns and the connections people feel to these terms.
While ‘Vic’ is not a term officially used by the University, any abbreviation associated
with University of Wellington would need to be considered during implementation. It
may need to be reflected in shortened web urls, email addresses and in other ways, to
ensure it is consistent.
Negative impact on donations, financial support and goodwill.
A further concern expressed in submissions was the potential impact a change would
have on the University’s receipt of donations, financial support and goodwil .
We do not consider that a name change would pose a long term risk to donations and
The Chair of the Victoria University of Wellington Foundation, a charitable trust set up
to raise private funds for projects of strategic importance at the University, supports
the name change.
Most of our donors give to the University in order to benefit society by way of our
teaching and research roles. The proposed change to our name would not affect our
role in society. Key University donors were spoken to throughout the process and
donors received a copy of the draft decision when it was released. Very limited
feedback has been received that would indicate that there might be a long term
The wider alumni community is important to the University and support and advocacy
from that community is highly valued. Graduates of Victoria University of Wellington
would remain alumni of the University and the University is committed to continuing to
provide the alumni community opportunities to remain connected with each other and
with students and staff (via mentoring, communications, events etc).
Lack of support from staff, students and alumni.
This theme was raised in a number of submissions and with particular reference to the
4th criterion in the criteria published by the Ministry of Education on 13 July 2018. That
4. The council can demonstrate that there is support for a name
The Council should provide evidence that there is demonstrable
support for a name change from the relevant affected parties
consulted with as per criterion 3.
Management has provided members of Council with the analysis of the support (and
otherwise) from the submissions, so that the Council can make its own assessment of
the level of support.
Under the relevant legal framework, the Education Act 1989 does not require a
Council making a recommendation to the Minister under section 162(5) to
demonstrate support for a name change or require the Minister to consider levels of
support in making a decision.
Rather, and as discussed above, the Education Act 1989 requires a Council to make
a recommendation to the Minister in accordance with the statutory duties of the
Council and the applicable statutory purpose and objectives. These statutory duties
require members of Council to make this decision in the best interests of the
We have sought advice regarding what is meant by ‘demonstrable support’. We note
that is not to be equated with majority
From the submissions received, we consider that there is ‘demonstrable support’ for
the proposed change. The majority of staff submissions (53%) support the change, as
does a significant majority of the stakeholder submissions (80%).
However, a strong majority of those alumni and students who made submissions do
not support the proposal, for the reasons outlined above.
Occurrence of themes
To assist the Council, we have captured the following data to track the commonalities
in the themes raised by the submission.
While this task has been undertaken carefully, there is an element of interpretation
involved so the numbers should be seen as indicative, rather than forensic.
4 The only legislative reference to ‘demonstrable support’ in New Zealand is in clause 8(1) of Schedule 3
to the Local Government Act 2002, relating to local government reorganisation proposals. Where the
Local Government Commission decides to assess a reorganisation application, the Commission must
first be satisfied that “there is demonstrable community support for local government reorganisation in the
district of each affected territorial authority”. The Local Government Act goes on to state that
‘demonstrable community support’ is not to be regarded as majority support. Clause 8(3) of Schedule 3
states that the Local Government Commission “does not need to determine whether the persons who
support local government reorganisation are a majority of the persons in an affected area”.
Themes in the Draft Decision paper
Staff Students Stakeholders Alumni Unidentified Total Petition
The name ‘Victoria’ holds value due to its prestigious
history and how it distinguishes the University from others
Victoria University of Wellington is well regarded
overseas, this change will have a negative impact on
recognition and association with this strong position
The use of ‘Victoria’ in the name results in
misidentification and/or misappropriation of work
‘Victoria’ is overused in the world and not distinctive
Alumni, staff and students are invested in the Victoria
name and have a strong connection to the current name
The proposed name is modern and progressive
Concerns with Wellington as an identifier and that the
name University of Wellington is very generic
The proposed name provides a stronger link to our
Potential impact on the University’s domestic brand as
Victoria is well regarded in New Zealand
Renaming will have little impact, and any change in
prospects of the University cannot be attributed to the
Concern with the costs of a name change, with funds
better used elsewhere
Support for the proposed Māori name
Alternative name suggestions
Staff Students Stakeholders Alumni Unidentified Total Petition
The arguments and reasons presented in the draft
decision paper are not compelling
A name change will result in further confusion/ loss of
reputation/loss of prestige and this risk has not been
correctly accounted for in the draft decision paper
Lack of support from staff, students and alumni
Concerns around degree value and employment
Concern about potential acronyms and what would
Negative impact on donations, financial support and
Error in draft decision paper
One submission highlighted an error in Appendix A, page 36, of the draft decision
paper. In this appendix the paper stated:
Note: Victoria University in Melbourne, Australia was historically named
Footscray Institute of Technology, but changed its name in 1990 after
being granted university status by the Victoria State Parliament and
undergoing amalgamations with other Melbourne tertiary institutions.
The submitter correctly advised the change in name in 1990 was from Footscray
Institute of Technology to Victoria University of Technology, not to Victoria University.
The subsequent name change to Victoria University occurred in 2005.
If the recommendations are approved by Council, the next step in the process would
be to send a letter formally recommending the change to the Minister of
Education. This would be done promptly after the decision is made by Council.
At the same time, we would also release a brand narrative and associated logo for
public viewing. The development of this has been done in conjunction with
Assignment Group as part of the review of University brand architecture discussed in
the draft decision.
As outlined previously, more detailed implementation planning would also commence
to develop a phased approach leading up to an official change in January 2020. This
timeframe will allow the University to both communicate the change and the rationale
as well as develop a plan to roll out changes in a way that utilises existing resources
and prudently manages costs.
Central to the planning will be ensuring that staff have access to the information they
need, and that our students, graduates and alumni have the documentation which
provides assurance their qualification and status is not affected.
Appendix A – Timeline
The following is an outline of all consultation steps undertaken by the University since
February 2018 and includes both the initial feedback period (1 May – 8 June) and the
formal consultation period following the draft decision (27 July – 27 August). February 2018
Engagement started with audiences outside the University in confidence and a
forum was held with senior University leaders.
Five forums attended by more than 550 staff presented by the Vice-Chancellor
were held 1-4 May,
on all campuses. A video of the Vice-Chancel or’s
presentation was placed on the staff intranet for people unable to attend.
The story was widely reported in media and the Vice-Chancellor was
interviewed a number of times. Outlets that covered the story included TVNZ,
Newshub, NewstalkZB, Dominion Post, the Herald and Radio NZ.
Student forum was co-hosted with VUWSA in the Hub on 4 May
Publicity on University website began, including the front page of the Current
Students’ Hub, Facebook, Alumni Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn
as well as external media, with details of how people could provide feedback.
A column in VicNews (internal staff newsletter) on 7 May
background for staff.
Alumni e-newsletter was sent out to 45,000 alumni on 9 May
with a column
from the Vice-Chancellor about the proposal and a link to more information on
the web page. The e-newsletter also contained a story from Associate
Professor Dan Laufer with his perspective on the proposal. An upcoming
public meeting was advertised in the e-newsletter.
Public forum was held on 23 May
at Rutherford House – this was promoted in
a media release on 11 May
. The media release was picked up by Newstalk ZB
(Auckland), Salient and NZCity. The invitation was posted on Victoria
University’s social media channels including alumni Facebook and website.
Stakeholder forum was held 30 May.
Personal invitations sent to over 200
Potential name change was discussed at well-attended alumni events in
London, Edinburgh, New York and San Francisco.
Alumni e-newsletter sent on 1 June
with a story about the continuing
discussion on the name change and an invitation for alumni to provide
feedback to an email address. This was the most opened story in the e-
The official feedback period ended on 8 June
but feedback continued to be
welcomed and received until 19 July. This was publicised through social media
channels and on the website.
Post uploaded on the Alumni Facebook page 11 June
thanking alumni who
made a submission and advising those who were unable to do so to date that
they still could make a submission to the email address.
Vice-Chancellor continued to complete media interviews.
Ongoing updates to material were made on the University’s website.
27 July 2018 – University Council makes draft decision and begins period of
University Council reached a draft decision on Friday 27 July
a further period for feedback. This was communicated through an all-staff
email, alumni e-newsletter, emails to people who had made submissions and
to stakeholders, a media release and social media posts on all University
pages. We answered questions and provided links to more information on the
Vice-Chancellor completed a number of media interviews.
Information about the draft decision has been in a prominent position on the
front page of the University’s website since 27 July
(and at other times during
May and June).
Opinion piece from the Vice-Chancellor appeared in the Dominion Post on 3
Advertisement placed in Dominion Post on 4 August
meetings on 6, 7 and 8 August and advising how to give feedback on the draft
Advertisement placed in Dominion Post on 6 August
meetings, how to give feedback and providing some of the thinking
underpinning the Council’s decision.
Student forum held on 6 August
at Rutherford House and broadcast live via
Article on the draft decision appeared in Salient on 6 August.
Public meetings held on 6, 7 and 8 August.
While not arranged by the University, a student protest was held outside the
Hunter Building on the University's Kelburn Campus on 7 August
Approximately 30 people attended.
A student perspective on the proposal published on the MyView blog, which
sits alongside the University’s website, on 6 August
A video of the Vice-Chancellor’s presentation at one of the public meetings
was posted on the University’s website on 8 August
and the link publicised
through social media channels.
Ongoing additions were made to the University website material on the
On 9 August
, the feedback period was extended for two weeks until Monday
27 August. This was widely publicised through the University’s website, social
media channels, a media release, a letter to alumni, a letter to stakeholders
and a letter to everyone who had provided feedback to the official feedback
Advertisement was placed in Dominion Post advising of extension to the
feedback period on 11 August.
A further student forum was held on 16 August
at the Kelburn campus.
Further staff forums were held on 17, 20, 21 and 22 August.
Advertisements appeared in the Dominion Post on 19, 22 and 25 August
answering frequently asked questions about the draft decision and publicising
how to provide feedback.
The Vice-Chancellor has personally responded, where possible, to hundreds
of emails from students, staff, alumni and stakeholders. The Vice-Chancellor
and members of the Senior Leadership Team have also had numerous face-
to-face meetings and conversations about the proposal.
Formal consultation closed at 5:00pm on 27 August
. Late feedback was still
accepted until 10:00am on 28 August
- Agenda - Public
- Disclosures of Interests
- Council Minutes and Matters Arising
- Report from the Chancellor
- Report from the Vice-Chancellor
- Committee Reports
- Forthcoming Events and Next Meetings
- Financial Report to 31 August 2018
- Graduates in Absentia
- Name Simplification
- Domestic Tuition Fees
- Resolution Concerning the Exclusion of the Public
- Governing Documents - Council Manual
- Governing Documents - Council Standing Orders and Code of Conduct
- Governing Documents - Committee Terms of Reference