Patrick Gower: Dropping 'Vic' from Vic Uni is arrogant, reckless and wrong

Patrick Gower: Dropping 'Vic' from Vic Uni is arrogant, reckless and wrong
Photo credit: Victoria University

OPINION: The plan to change the name of Victoria University to Wellington University is one of the most breathtakingly stupid ideas I have ever seen.

I actually did a double-take when I realised this week that the powers-that-be of my old uni were so close to trashing the good name Vic because of a "branding issue".

It is disappointing because Victoria University of Wellington seems more than good enough already.

It is gutting because 'Vic' is a cool nickname - it is an institution in so many ways.

It is appalling because the idea to replace it is so lame - plain old 'University of Wellington'.

And it is a disgusting waste of money from taxpayers and student fees that will go on the re-branding - millions and millions of dollars will be spent changing signs and letterheads.

It will cost many millions more for decent rebranding campaign, locally and internationally.

Reinforcing a new brand in a global market will cost an absolute fortune.

And there is no proof changing the name will work - that is reckless.

As the cliche goes: "If it ain’t broke, don't fix it."

The Chancellor, Vice-Chancellor and University Council need to realise it is not their university, and it is not their money to throw away.

The name belongs to everyone - the students and teachers both past and present and to the good people of Wellington.

To change the name is just arrogant.    

The University appears to have done no 'stakeholder-engagement' - in human terms, it has not talked to people, it has not built a case.

It is not changing the name for colonial reasons based around Queen Victoria, there is no big push for a Māori name.

The University is just doing it because apparently it would get more international students and donations if it was called Wellington Uni. That is just lazy.

Well, the counter-factual is if some of the money intended for changing the name was put on a professional marketing campaign the current brand could be enhanced and reinforced.  

The solution seems to be to make 'Brand Vic' stronger: embrace Victoria University of Wellington, deepen the clear pride for 'Vic' as a secondary brand, and incorporate a strong Māori name.  

The Government needs to look closely at whether the University’s management it has appointed is up to the job.

The Vic name is not broken, but the management may be. It could be time to fix that.

Patrick Gower is Newshub's National Correspondent and a Victoria University of Wellington alumni