Worried product opts to rebrand

August 2, 2002

The University of Northumbria at Newcastle is to rename and rebrand itself. After two years of introspection, it concluded that its title and message have become tired and cumbersome, writes Alison Utley.

Shortening the name to Northumbria University and devising a new logo are the most visible aspects of the rebranding.

"No matter how intrinsically excellent the product, if it is not perceived as such it will not become popular or distinctive," said Sean Figgis, head of communications.

An in-house team has taken on the task of rebranding. Focus groups with staff and students helped to fine tune the details.

Vice-chancellor Kel Fidler issued a vision document designed to be a step towards repositioning the university and reversing a declining interest from applicants.

From September, the faculties will be replaced by 11 schools. Although all current disciplines will remain, relative size and shapes will change and successful areas such as health will be a future focus of work. A range of employment-enhancing courses will also be developed.

Professor Fidler said the university needed to diversify away from reliance on funding council money. "This requires us to be entrepreneurial, to develop our international activities, our corporate activities and our distance-learning work."

* Aberdeen University yesterday launched a radical restructuring of 54 departments from three faculties into 11 schools.

The move comes just as Aberdeen embarks on merger talks with neighbouring Robert Gordon University. Vice-principal Graeme Roberts said: "It's not a good idea to have total planning blight, because a merger may be the consequence of discussions (several) years down the line."

Aberdeen believes the move will reduce the administrative pressures on small departments, boost cross-disciplinary research and offer the chance of increasing research income.

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