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August 6, 2018 | by  | in Opinion | [ssba]

Why is the Uni Paying so Much to Change its Name Again?

In an FAQ released as part of material concerning the name change, Victoria states that, “this University, like all others in New Zealand, is now dependent on international staff and students”. If this is in fact the case, Victoria needs to provide better support services for their international students, as they do for all of their students.
Research conducted by the University themselves asked international students to rank factors they took into consideration when deciding on a University. “Prestige” (which includes international reputation and name recognition around the world) was ranked by international students as only the 5th most important factor.
On the other hand the highest ranked factors were, first of all, “having high calibre teaching staff,” followed by “having support systems for overseas students to help them succeed”. These are, of course, services the university continues to neglect.
Currently if you want to see a counsellor at Victoria, you have to wait on average four weeks. If the University is concerned with building a strong international reputation as globally ranked University, they should start with creating a reputation among their students as a University concerned with their welfare.
To date the University has already spent $236,151 on considerations for the proposed name change, and their own estimates put future costs of a rollout at $962,151. By contrast, the University currently spends a bit over two million a year on counselling.
Looking at the University’s own consultation, a very clear majority against the name change presents itself. Of current students and alumni, stakeholders, and the public who gave feedback, only a meager 32% of respondents said they were supportive of the change. Of Alumni and current students, only 26% and 25% respectively were in favour.

Grant Guilford has justified the name change, saying that the council unanimously supports it, as well as marae, local iwi, trustees, librarians, and other stakeholders. I think it is disingenuous and arrogant to pretend there is a swell of support for this change, when the University’s own data shows that it just isn’t there. Vic students and graduates, who I would argue the name actually belongs to, have shown their opposition.
The University’s top reason for the name change is a confusion between other “Victoria Universities” internationally. In the regions VUW draws international students from, University of Victoria in British Columbia is searched for at far higher levels than Victoria of Wellington, while Victoria University in Australia is searched for at relatively the same rate. Both other Unis have similar enrolment numbers to VUW. This data comes from quick comparison of Google trends that anyone could perform.
I can’t help but feel this “lack of brand recognition” argument is remarkably condescending. No international student is accidently enrolling in the wrong Victoria. Cases of any publications from VUW or any VUW events being attributed to another Victoria have occurred very infrequently.
So after all this, the University employed the market research firm Colmar Brunton to look into the impact a potential name change would have. Their analysis was that a name alone explains 11% of students preferences, and a potential name change would only bump student’s preference by 2.2%.

So we have a change that students and alumni don’t want, that the Uni claims will scantily boost international student income (maybe with a margin of error of at least 2.6 percent)) and will divert almost $1 million away from better teaching and support for students. Grant Guilford, why are we doing this again?


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