China Exclusive: For some Chinese universities, it is all about the name

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, July 9, 2015
Adjust font size:

A good brand name is worth more than gold. It's an age-old rule in sales and, it turns out, is also true for Chinese universities.

The importance of a university branding recently became apparent after Nanchang University in east China's Jiangxi Province declared "Nanda" the school's nickname, sparking protest from Nanjing University, one of the country's top colleges also located in the east.

After catching wind of Nanchang's attempt to adopt "Nanda", Nanjing University officials explained they have used "Nanda" as a registered trademark in both Chinese and English as early as 2002.

Nanjing University later filed a complaint to Nanchang University and Ministry of Education, with the ministry telling the two schools to settle the issue on their own.

Chinese people like using abbreviations for nicknames of colleges. An abbreviation usually contains two characters. The first is usually the abbreviation of the place where the university is located, and the second, without fail, is "da", an abbreviation of "daxue", or university.

The trouble, however, is that too many locations carry the same character or have similar pronunciation in pinyin. In the case of Nanchang University and Nanjing University, both locations have the same character "nan".

"Nanda" has long been accepted nationwide as referring to Nanjing University, which has a history of more than 110 years. Nanchang University, on the other hand, was established in 1993 after Jiangxi University and Jiangxi Industrial University merged.

According to Zhang Lei, head of Huaxia Trademark Service, a company specializing in trademark affairs, Nanchang University committed trademark infringement as Nanjing University possesses all legal rights to the colloquial name "Nanda" and can defend any misuse by others.

But why did authorities of Nanchang University risk a trademark case?

Online critics believe they just wanted a free ride by using the reputation of the more famous and influential Nanjing University.

The row between the two universities reflects the fact that some university management cares too much about superficial matters while educational and academic development seems to come second.

In the eyes of some school leaders, a name can mean the difference between success and failure when recruiting students and wooing their parents.

There's another form of obsession with names. Higher education institutions in China often prefer the word "university" to "institute" or "college" in their title since it is believed that "university" sounds much more superior.

Thus, there has been a renaming trend since the 1990s, with many "colleges" and "institutes" becoming "universities."

The renaming trend has resulted in blind expansion of campus infrastructure and facilities as colleges push to meet the requirements to become a "university."

On the contrary, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, one of the world's most prominent universities and home to dozens of Nobel Prize laureates, bears the word "institute" in its name but is still considered among the most prestigious.

There is a very good solution for Nanchang University. Instead of using "Nanda," it should build its own brand and reputation, with its own traditional colloquial name, for example "Changda," which is more accepted and appears in its school anthem.

With years of efforts from teachers and students, it is possible that one day "Changda" might become more famous than "Nanda."

As Mei Yiqi, president of Tsinghua University in the 1930s, once said, "what makes a good university is not how many buildings it has, but how many great scholars, professors and masters it boasts." Endi

Print E-mail Bookmark and Share

Go to Forum >>0 Comment(s)

No comments.

Add your comments...

  • User Name Required
  • Your Comment
  • Enter the words you see:   
    Racist, abusive and off-topic comments may be removed by the moderator.
Send your storiesGet more from