University considers a name change to avoid confusion

Victoria University of Wellington is considering changing its name because it is repeatedly confused with other institutions around the world with a similar name.

The university announced last week it was considering dropping the monarch’s title from its name and becoming ‘the University of Wellington’.

The vice-chancellor, Professor Grant Guilford, said New Zealanders knew where the university was, but overseas the name was the source of a lot of confusion.

"We’ve worked out the 'Victoria' element of our name is not distinctive on the world stage," he said.

"Our work is regularly attributed to other universities bearing that name – there are about six other Victoria universities in the world."

Guilford said the university was most often confused with Victoria University in Melbourne, Australia, as he was reminded during an overseas trip recently.

“I was introduced as the vice-chancellor of Victoria University of Wellington to someone and they immediately said how am I enjoying Melbourne, which is the typical thing that’s happening, whereby our name is assumed to mean that we’re a university in Australia.”

Guilford said the university had considered name changes three times before and its current title dated from 1955.

“There was controversy over whether we should be Victoria University or University of Wellington and in good old style they compromised and we became Victoria University of Wellington,” he said.

Guilford said he expected some people would want the university to retain the name Victoria.

“I think Victoria is a term that we treasure, that has a lot of history for this university, but I think you must not be entrapped by this history,” he said.

The university had started consultation with its staff and students and with alumni and hoped to make a decision this year.