Victoria University of Wellington name should remain
Hon Chris Hipkins
Minister of Education
18 December 2018
Victoria University of Wellington name should remain, says Minister
Education Minister Chris Hipkins has declined Victoria University of Wellington Council’s application for a legal name change.
The Council formally made an application to change the institution’s name to the University of Wellington on 27 September 2018.
“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.
“In the interests of transparency, I am releasing the advice I have received to inform my decision on the application for a name change,” Chris Hipkins said.
The Education Act 1989 allows the Minister of Education to approve a tertiary education institution (TEI) name change on the recommendation of that TEI’s council.
The Ministry of Education earlier this year published the criteria that would be used to assess such a recommendation from a council: https://minedu.cwp.govt.nz/further-education/policies-and-strategies/tertiary-education-institution-name-change-criteria/
Nothing in the Minister’s decision affects any proposed change to Victoria University of Wellington’s Māori name. The Minister’s approval is required only for the university to change its legal name, which is in English.