West side story at heart of branding rumble

April 29, 2010

Two universities are at loggerheads over plans by one of them to change its name.

Thames Valley University applied to the Privy Council to change its title to the University of West London, citing a strategic decision to "refocus" towards its roots in the area.

But Times Higher Education has learned that Brunel University lodged an objection to the plan.

Brunel, which is based in Uxbridge, told THE that it owned trade marks including "Brunel The University of West London", and that it had well-known and long-standing connections with the area.

Its website also carries the logo "Brunel University West London".

In a statement, Brunel says that "discussions" have taken place with Peter John, the vice-chancellor of Thames Valley, and that Professor John was aware of Brunel's concerns before the university submitted its plans to the Privy Council.

"Brunel University owns the trade marks 'Brunel University West London' and 'Brunel The University of West London', and of course has an affiliation with West London dating back to the 1920s," a Brunel spokeswoman said.

She added that the university had incorporated the West London Institute in 1995.

"We appreciate the opportunity to contribute to the Privy Council's deliberations, but consider that we must respect its process by not making any further comment ahead of its meeting," the spokeswoman added.

A Thames Valley spokeswoman responded by stating that it had a 150-year stake in education in West London, with a "teaching heritage" that included the incorporation of Ealing College of Higher Education and the London College of Music.

Those two institutions combined during the formation of the Polytechnic of West London in 1991, which became Thames Valley the following year.

Thames Valley has been advised that the council will make its decision soon after the general election.

It has campuses in Brentford, Ealing, Reading and Slough. In May 2009, it announced plans to close its Slough campus in 2010.

rebecca.attwood@tsleducation.com.

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