In December, the Oslo and Akershus University College (HiOA) board met to decide on a new name for the school. HiOA is in the process of becoming a full-fledged university, and needs a new name. There was only one suggestion on the table: Oslo Metropolitan University (OsloMet – Storbyuniversitetet in Norwegian). Rector Curt Rice had come up with the name.
«If you act today, the city will experience something that hasn’t happened in 206 years: there will be a new institution, and most importantly, the name will have the world ‘university’ in it,» Rice said to the board.
Nevertheless, the meeting was tense. Not everyone was equally excited about the name.
«I’m one of those who think OsloMet is a terrible name. It gives one a lot of associations, but at the same time I don’t see why we should have a nickname that doesn’t say we’re a university,» said board member Bjørn Smedstad.
Student representative Envy Aleksander Frogset was also critical toward the name.
«I can’t support this suggestion. OsloMet is an awful name, and it doesn’t even suggest this is a university,» he said, echoing Smedstad.
Other board members were frustrated they only had one name to vote on.
However, Rector Rice, board member Trine Syvertsen, and several others were insistent that this has been a very open process with room for ideas.
Syvertsen was satisfied with the name. «I like how it sounds in English. The hardest part has been finding a good Norwegian translation. ‘Storbyuniversitetet is OK, but it’s still a bit weak,» she said.
We used to go to a disco that was called ‘Metropolitan’... It might work in the USA, but in Norway you get other associations with it.Rector of Høyskolen Kristiania
Although many were critical to the Norwegian short version «OsloMet,» and there was a suggestion to remove it from the full name, the resolution passed in the end with six votes against five.
After the meeting, Rector Curt Rice told Universitas «I’m very satisfied with the board’s decision.»
When asked about why he thought there was so much disagreement in the board, Rice said, «I don’t think it reflects the level of support as a whole. Three of them just wanted to take away the short version [OsloMet].»
Rector’s own suggestion
It’s no secret that OsloMet was Curt Rice’s own suggestion, and his clear favorite. He says «metropolitan» is often used at universities where there is more diversity in age and ethnicity, and where the institution is more closely connected to working life.
«The established meaning of a ‘metropolitan university’ is similar to our profile and mission,» he argued.
That argument did not stop criticism though. The rector of Høyskolen Kristiania told Forskerforum, «There must be a reason they’re picking it, but for me ‘metropolitan’ conveys a disco. When I was younger, I went to Brighton, and we used to go to a disco that was called ‘Metropolitan’. There’s a women’s magazine called ‘Metropolitan’ with lots of ads for makeup and clothes. It might work in the USA, but in Norway you get other associations with it.»
The suggestion passed the board though, and in all likelihood Oslo will soon have a university with a new name: OsloMet. The final decision will be made by the Department of Education.