The Council formally made an application to change the institution’s name to the University of Wellington in September this year.
The Council’s decision followed over a year of research, seeking advice from experts and discussion with staff, students, alumni and stakeholders, including a consultation period during which close to 2,500 submissions were received. Information about the reasons underpinning the University Council recommendation to change the name can be found on the University’s website.
However, Education Minister Chris Hipkins says after considering all correspondence, he believes the level of opposition is too high to proceed with the change.
“I have considered the University’s recommendation and supporting information along with advice received from officials,” Chris Hipkins said.
“The Council identified benefits that it considered would follow a name change and its consultation process which, although the subject of some criticism, brought out a wide range of views.
“The Council’s consultation showed that staff were divided on the name change, and there was significant opposition from alumni and students who responded. This opposition is also reflected in surveys conducted by the Victoria University of Wellington Students’ Association and the VUW Law Students’ Society, and to a lesser extent one from the Tertiary Education Union.
“I also received more than 450 pieces of correspondence on the name change question from students, alumni and others mostly opposed to the name change. Many of these referred to a change.org petition with more than 10,000 signatories listed as opposing the name change.
“While Victoria University of Wellington, like other universities, has significant autonomy in making academic, operational and management decisions, it is accountable to its community and the groups that make up the University.
“I am not convinced that the University engaged sufficiently with the views of those stakeholders who should have their views considered. Given the level of opposition to the University’s recommendation, including by its own staff, students and alumni, I am not persuaded that the recommendation is consistent with the demands of accountability and the national interest.”
Victoria University of Wellington says it is considering the Minister’s decision before any comment is made and before any discussion of next steps.