The Vice Chancellor of the University of Bolton is to take questions from town hall bosses on controversial plans to change the institution’s name.

Last month the university sparked wide ranging debate after announcing plans to rebrand as “The University of Greater Manchester.”

Now, Bolton Council leader Nick Peel has said that he favours keeping the name of the town in the university’s title and that Vice Chancellor Professor George E Holmes has agreed to take questions.

Cllr Peel said: “I have a cast iron assurance from Professor Holmes that he will come to Bolton Council, to this chamber, for an informal council meeting and he will take questions and give his answers back to us.”

Professor Holmes has previously said that he believes changing the university’s name will help to raise its profile internationally and improve graduate’s prospects.

The Bolton News: The University of Bolton, based on Deane RoadThe University of Bolton, based on Deane Road (Image: University of Bolton)

But political leaders from across the spectrum, including Labour’s Cllr Peel and Conservative opposition leader Cllr Martyn Cox have since spoken out about the importance of the name “Bolton” to the town’s identity.

Cllr Peel had been taking questions at a town hall meeting last week when Cllr David Grant, of Horwich South and Blackrod and Cllr Liam Barnard, of Little Lever and Darcy Lever, both posed questions about the controversial name change.

In response, Cllr Peel said that paid tribute to the impact the university has on regenerating the borough, but understood the fierce competition for international students that had driven it to consider rebranding.

He said: “We have to understand that all of the universities in the UK are actually battling it out in quite a competitive market.

"We do know that in most universities apart from the traditional redbrick ones homegrown students are in decline and have been for a number of year which is primarily due to the cost of living crisis."

He added: "What isn't declining is international students and its incredibly competitive."

"What universities do is they try to rebrand.

“It's what they do, its pretty obvious, anybody who runs a business will know this.”

Cllr Peel said that "Manchester" was one of the best known brands around the world and pointed to examples including the University of Central Lancashire based in Preston, Warwick based in Coventry and The University of Bedfordshire based in Luton, as institutions with famous names attached. 

He also pointed to the University of Salford, Manchester as a key example.

Cllr Peel said: "They all do it to improve their standing."

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He added: “So we know what it behind this, we can see the reason, we sympathise.”

But Cllr Peel said he believed a solution could be found that would still keep Bolton in the title in some capacity.

He said: “There is a win-win here for our university, they can retain the name Bolton in the title and I’ve been very clear that they can have it both ways.”

He added: “Keeping the name Bolton in the title is non-negotiable for myself as leader of the council and I know that the other leaders agree with that.”