University of Portsmouth under fire over £800,000 rebrand costs as departments face cuts

The new logo visible on University House, Winston Churchiil Avenue, Portsmouth
The new logo visible on University House, Winston Churchiil Avenue, Portsmouth
The M27. Picture: Google Street View

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MORE than £800,000 has been spent on a rebrand and logo at the University of Portsmouth, The News can reveal.

Details of the spending come as senior management have just asked departments to make five to seven per cent cuts or boost their income.

Central to the rebrand is a redesigned logo – which may in truth cost more than £800,000. The university did not disclose any potential spend on design agencies.

In addition, analysis of finance papers by The News reveals vice-chancellor Professor Graham Galbraith has received a basic salary pay hike of £46,000 since he started his job in September 2013.

He is currently paid £266,000, with pension contributions taking that to payments of £305,000-a-year.

Dr James Hicks, city university branch secretary of the University and College union, said: ‘I don’t understand why they would spend so much money on a logo and shortly after that say we’re having difficulties and might need to make savings.

‘You would assume they would have thought this through and it would be a little more joined up.

‘If they believed the logo made a difference to student recruitment or any other business relationships, they have (then I understand) but I don’t understand what difference it would make.

‘We recruit on reputation and rankings, on opinion, and personal contact.’

A Freedom of Information response reveals the university set a budget of about £515,000 to replace signs, and £280,000 to ‘review and invest in the future of our brand’ including a 10,000-people consultation on the rebrand.

The rebrand, including redrawn crest and new logo, will be rolled out over the 18 months to December via ‘natural attrition’. Legal fees, project management, and ID card replacements were done in-house so no specific cost was given.

The university said it chose to do a rebrand for 2017 to mark its 25-year anniversary, saying it had ‘for too long’ been a ‘hidden gem’.

A spokesman said the university wanted a brand that better ‘reflects’ it today and to ‘strengthen our ability to gain greater recognition’.

A statement said it was set to lose £4.5m income in 2018/19 and at least the same again the year after due to a freeze on undergraduate tuition fees for UK and EU students. A reduction in the number of 18-year-olds has led to ‘competitive student recruitment’, a statement said.

‘All departments have been asked to find ways to improve efficiency and effectiveness by identifying how they will reduce expenditure and/or increase income by between five and seven per cent to provide the levels of surplus that are necessary to secure our future.’

Not all departments have to make cuts.

Portsmouth South Labour MP Stephen Morgan said: ‘I can see why these spending commitments would raise eyebrows among some, at a time when big questions about the future of universities remain unanswered by the government.’

He said he would work with the institution and wanted to see it ‘doing more to give back to our great city’.

University says pay ‘reflects’ task of vice-chancellor

THE university has defended making a £46,000 pay increase for the vice-chancellor in four years.

Professor Graham Galbraith started in September 2013 taking over from Professor John Craven, whose salary increased by £41,000 in seven years between 2005/06 and 2012/13. Prof Galbraith is now on £266,000 – up from £220,000.

The University of Portsmouth said the salary ‘reflects’ his task ‘managing a successful international institution’ with a £233m turnover and 23,000 students and 2,500 staff.

A statement added it was ‘in line’ with the average pay for vice-chancellors. Prof Galbraith was offered a £5,000 bonus last year but refused it – asking the cash to be spent on bursaries.