Anglia revives name game

January 28, 2005

The last UK higher education institution to include the word "polytechnic" in its title has drawn up a shortlist of alternative names amid concerns that students could be confused about its university status in the run-up to 2006.

Anglia Polytechnic University has proposed three alternative names in a bid to clarify its status to undergraduates and applicants before the introduction of the new higher education "market" of variable tuition fees and bursaries.

It is not the first time the university has mooted a name change. Lengthy deliberations in the late Nineties culminated in a governors' meeting in December 2000 that unanimously decided to leave it as APU.

Five years on, the governors have come up with some alternative suggestions: Anglia University, Anglia Ruskin University - in honour of Victorian writer and artist John Ruskin - or Anglia Metropolitan University.

The first of these - Anglia University - is the governors' preferred option.

The final decision about the change rests with the Privy Council, which will respond to a recommendation from the Department for Education and Skills.

According to a consultation letter drafted by David Tidmarsh, the vice-chancellor, the name APU was adopted in 1992 through "expediency rather than preference, since the then preferred titles were refused".

Professor Tidmarsh added: "In recent years, it has become apparent that the retention of the word 'polytechnic' in the title is a cause of confusion.

Students and parents are not certain whether Anglia is or is not a university.

"With the introduction of top-up fees in 2006, it is essential that some clarity is brought to bear if the university is to deal with the challenges of an increasingly competitive and demanding market."

In an interview with The Times Higher after his appointment last summer, Professor Tidmarsh said that debate over the name should not deflect the institution from "a lot of other basic work it needs to do".

Steve Bennett, secretary and clerk at APU, said that the university had commissioned market research about its likely position in 2006 and that the alternative titles were a "by-product" of that research.

Mr Bennett added: "(The name) has been a concern for a little while, and we have sensed that concern through dealings with both staff and students.

"We believe there has to be a change and we hope that the DFES and Privy Council will find in the shortlist of names a basis on which they could approve a new name."

Mr Bennett said the title Anglia University was favoured because it was "already in day-to-day use" at APU's campuses in Chelmsford and Cambridge.

He added: "It would be disappointing if none of these names could be approved."

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