Changing the University of Bolton’s name to the University of Greater Manchester will help drive the town into the future, its vice chancellor claims.

Speaking exclusively to The Bolton News, Professor George E Holmes says that he foresees a future in which Greater Manchester will be comparable to London with up to 10 or 12 universities.

He said that the consultation is set to be launched formally in the next two to four weeks and will give people the chance to give their views over a year long period.

Professor Holmes said: “I think the important thing is we are based in Bolton, we are staying in Bolton and this is about strengthening Bolton.”

He added: “This process is going to take more than a year so it’s not a fait accompli, it’s a consultation that’s ongoing and we’re wedded to Bolton, its future and its past.”

The Bolton News: Professor George E HolmesProfessor George E Holmes (Image: University of Bolton)

The rebranding idea has provoked a mixed reaction since it was first announced.

Labour Council leader Cllr Nick Peel has said that “his preference” would be for Bolton to be kept within the title, while Conservative opposition leader Cllr Martyn Cox said felt people in the town may have been disappointed at dropping its name.

Members of the public have also written into The Bolton News calling for the town’s name to be maintained.

But Bolton West MP Chris Green said he felt people would still feel a connection to their “local university.”  

Now Professor Holmes has confirmed that current students and those who enrol before the rebrand takes place, if it proceeds, will have the choice of being recognised as graduates of either the University of Bolton or Greater Manchester.

He also said that thanks to the success of Manchester’s football teams and its culture across the world the name had far greater international recognition which would help attract overseas students.

This in turn, he said, could be key to wider attempts to remake the borough which include plans for more student accommodation at Crompton Place and to create a “café culture” around the town.

Professor Holmes said: “One of the ways we can make this a more prosperous town is to attract more students, both domestic and international.”

He added: “The reality is under English law, which we all have to live under, we are within the authority of Greater Manchester.”

But he predicted that the proposed rebrand could go further than playing its part in Bolton’s regeneration and could be part of bigger plans for the entire region.

ALSO READ: University of Bolton plans 'Greater Manchester' rebrand

ALSO READ: University to 'firmly retain' Bolton in address after 'Greater Manchester' rebrand

ALSO READ: University of Bolton shoots up Guardian University Guide

He said: “The city region has got the Manchester name is its becoming the second city in the UK in terms of its productivity.”

He added: “If I was going to predict the future there may be 10 or 12 universities in Greater Manchester.

“There could be one in Bury, there could be one in Rochdale, we could be like London.

“I think you have to recognise that the bigger, longer prosperity will come from the city region, which is why we’ve got the city mayor.”