East Anglia is waking up and shaking up its provision for local learners
A brand revamp - but not a name change - is on the cards for Anglia Polytechnic University as part of its new vice-chancellor's plans to "wake up" the institution.
David Tidmarsh said he hoped to develop the profile of APU, partly by giving it a "stronger presence" at its 20-plus partner further education colleges around the region.
The brand revamp could see the introduction of a "geographical locator" - such as "APU at Norwich" or "APU at Great Yarmouth" - and marketing work to develop the university's reputation in a few high-quality disciplines.
But Professor Tidmarsh also warned that courses being taught by partner colleges that failed to meet APU's expectations on quality would be "culled".
He said it was essential to the regional economy that APU's partnership with colleges continued, but he added: "From a brand viewpoint, for any student we take on, any provision we take on, we're going to ensure there is the quality we require. If that means culling early on, we will cull. We will cull to get the quality we want if we have to."
Professor Tidmarsh's appointment follows the retirement of APU's former vice-chancellor Michael Malone-Lee. It comes as the 30,000-student university attempts to agree the tuition fees it will charge and bursaries it will offer to students from 2006 when variable top-up fees are introduced.
Professor Tidmarsh, formerly pro vice-chancellor of the University of Central England, said that APU's market research might not be concluded in time to include details of its 2006 charges and financial aid for students in its next prospectus.
He said that the pricing of APU courses being offered by affiliated colleges in more remote rural or socially deprived urban areas of the eastern region complicated the equation.
The long-standing debate within the university about whether to drop the word "polytechnic" from its name should not deflect the institution from "a lot of other basic work it needs to do", Professor Tidmarsh said.
But he did not rule out a name change in the longer term. "If an opportunity were ever to present itself, it would be incumbent upon me to talk to the governors about an alternative."
Professor Tidmarsh said that he hoped to simplify the organisational structure and focus on developing already successful schools, particularly health and social care and art and design at APU's Cambridge site.
Although a process to bench-mark the quality and success of courses was under way, he declined to say if some degree courses would face closure.
Professor Tidmarsh also urged the Government to clarify the "muddle" over part-time fees.
"We are one of four or five institutions where part-time student numbers are about equal to full-time numbers. I don't want to see any additional student numbers funded in the sector at all until part-time study has been funded properly.
"It's been completely overlooked and it's grossly unfair. If you put money into part-time study, the Government will reach its 50 per cent participation target better than any other way.
"We should be getting a group of universities together that have significant part-time numbers and do some major lobbying. It may be too late already, but we need to make people aware of what may happen."