UCE adopts new identity

October 5, 2007

The University of Central England in Birmingham unveiled a new name this week, along with plans to slash the number of its sites and invest £250 million in a new city-centre campus, Rebecca Attwood writes. Changing the names of universities is starting to look like something of a habit for David Tidmarsh, vice-chancellor of what is now Birmingham City University. Two years ago, Professor Tidmarsh renamed Anglia Polytechnic University as Anglia Ruskin University when he was head of that institution.

Professor Tidmarsh, who took up his current role last December, said the decision to change UCE's identity followed an extensive consultation in which 4,700 people were asked to give their verdict on the 15-year-old title.

"The external perception was very much that name change was needed," he said.

"The University of Central England Birmingham is a very long name. With the name UCE everyone says, 'Where is it?' With UCE Birmingham, everyone says, 'What is it?' Getting "Birmingham" and "university" in the title is very important."

Professor Tidmarsh said the rebranding was part of a major strategic plan for the university, which would include the creation of a new campus for the creative arts in Birmingham's Eastside district.

"The first [part of the plan] is the commitment to move the university from 16 sites down to three or four," he said. "Having larger sites will allow us to consolidate support for our students."

He also wants to examine student recruitment. While the university recruits well locally, he would like to see more students from elsewhere in the country and more international students. Currently, about one in ten of the university's 24,000 students hails from overseas.

Professor Tidmarsh will also be looking at the university's internal organisation and academic portfolio in more detail.

Professor Tidmarsh said Birmingham City University had many strengths, including its work with business and industry, the strength of its health faculty and a practice-based approach to courses, as well as unique features such as its conservatoire and its School of Jewellery.

*The University of Wales Aberystwyth has changed its name to Aberystwyth University after being given the power to award its own degrees. Noel Lloyd, the vice-chancellor, said the change recognised the university's high academic standards but it would continue to award University of Wales degrees.

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