Victoria University has decided it won't legally challenge the Education Minister's decision to reject its name change proposal, but it will adopt a new branding strategy.

This is despite the university having received legal advice, which led it to consider there is a very high likelihood that decision was unlawfully made.

Vice-Chancellor professor Grant Guilford has put to bed more than just a legal name change today.

He has also put aside concerns about the wider impact of the minister's decision on institutional autonomy, something "very precious" to the university.


Guilford has previously told the Herald that weighing up whether to challenge the minister's decision was tricky and a matter of principle.

"Universities have a particular responsibility to hold ministers to account if they may have behaved unlawfully and we do that of course through the courts."

"We've got these two principles that we almost invariably wish to defend but against that is the obvious pragmatic issues of biting the hand that feeds you, it's not wise territory to be in."

Today Guilford told reporters at a press conference the New Zealand public expected better things from a university than taking a minister to court.

"So we've decided to set aside those concerns and move forward, draw a line under this.

"We can achieve what we need to achieve for Wellington and for the university by a branding refresh, so there's no point in fighting on points of principle when we don't think that's what the public want us to be doing."

Chancellor Neil Paviour-Smith said the university's council considered in a meeting today the previous legal advice it had received.

"When we stand back from all of that and think about what's in the best interests of the university today, we think the best decision is to conclude the debate."


The branding refresh will see the university emphasise the word "Wellington" in its name.

It's hoped that will firmly link the university's identity to its location in the Wellington region.

The university's council unanimously agreed on the move, which will cost several hundred thousand dollars for design and trademark fees.

It follows strong opposition to the legal name change sparking a 13,000 strong petition.

Paviour-Smith said he was not concerned about having that debate.

"You can take a view that something's going to be a bit confronting and go and hide behind the rocks, or you can say that the best interests of the university are served by having a mature debate about something that's quite important."

When Chris Hipkins announced his decision to decline the proposal he said that while the university had significant autonomy in making academic, operational and management decisions, it was accountable to its community and the groups which made up the university.

"I am not convinced that the university engaged sufficiently with the views of those stakeholders who should have their views considered.

"Given the level of opposition to the university's recommendation, including by its own staff, students and alumni, I am not persuaded that the recommendation is consistent with the demands of accountability and the national interest."