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August 16, 2010 | by  | in News |
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Vice-Chancellors’ Committee Changes Name, Solves Tertiary

Current problems in the tertiary sector will be able to be better addressed with a change of title, the New Zealand Vice-Chancellors’ Committee announced recently.

The committee launched its new name, Universities New Zealand-Te Pokai Tara, at an event hosted by Tertiary Education Minister Steven Joyce at parliament earlier this month.

Universities New Zealand Chair Derek McCormack says that the change will help universities collectively address tertiary funding problems.

“More than ever, now is the time for our universities to speak with a unified voice as we respond to these challenges.

“The name Universities New Zealand-Te Pokai Tara will help us to accomplish this. It offers us easier name recognition as we seek to remind the public about the vital role that universities play in New Zealand society.”

Universities New Zealand consists of the vice-chancellors of New Zealand’s eight universities and carries out a number of functions, including academic quality assurance, funding applications, administration of scholarships and promotion and representation of the universities.

The organisation is funded almost entirely by the universities.

When questioned about the suitability of rebranding during the current tertiary funding crisis, Universities New Zealand Strategic Communications Manager Matt Huntington told Salient that he believes the cost will pay off over time.

Huntington says the total cost of rebranding was $20,054.50 and the cost of the launch was $4005. The agency that carried out the rebranding offered one of the lowest tenders the committee had received for the development of the new brand.

“From day one, cost was one of the parameters of the rebranding. The cost factor was one of the most important considerations.”

The aim of the rebranding is to create a body that the public can better recognise, relate to and understand.
The development follows rebranding exercises by similar university organisations in the United Kingdom and Australia. These changes have been largely successful and in Australia saw an extra $1 billion allocated to the tertiary sector, Huntington says.

The cost of the rebranding will hopefully be returned in a similar way in New Zealand, Huntington says.

New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations (NZUSA) Co-President David Do says he has no particular views on the suitability of the costs associated with rebranding , but says that he thinks it is important that the universities develop a better relationship with the public.

Do says that NZUSA supports many of the goals that Universities New Zealand is trying to achieve.

“There is more that we agree on than disagree on.”

Huntington and Do both told Salient that it was important that Universities New Zealand could persuade the public of the important role of universities and graduates. With public support and a united body representing universities, they argue, it will be easier for problems to be addressed.

Recent issues such as high demand for university places, limited funding and enrolment caps have presented New Zealand universities with a number of challenges.

As reported in Salient, a number of universities have closed enrolments early this year due to inadequate government funding. In May Victoria University closed domestic undergraduate enrolments for the remainder of 2010. Managed enrolments will come into effect for 2011.

The new name, which in Maori represents a flock of caspian terns, was launched with associated visual imagery. The imagery depicts eight terns flying upwards together, said to represent the eight New Zealand universities, their role as a source of knowledge and a sense of awakening that education can provide.

Universities New Zealand will still operate under its former name to fulfill some functions, says Universities New Zealand Executive Director Penny Fenwick.

“While we retain the name New Zealand Vice-Chancellors’ Committee in order to exercise our statutory functions and powers, the name Universities New Zealand-Te Pokai Tara will be our public face, as it more accurately conveys the role we play as peak body representing New Zealand’s eight universities.”

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