King’s Principal says ‘we will keep KCL legal name’ in email

PRINCIPAL Ed Byrne has confirmed that KCL will keep its official name of ‘King’s College London’ for legal documents, academic citations and the awarding of degrees.

The name ‘King’s London’ will be used from February 2015, introduced incrementally, starting with a new website and undergraduate prospectus.

They are “still working through all the technical elements” on guidance of how and where the new branding will be used.

This comes as students are consulting with law firms to try and prevent the rebrand.


Here is the full email from the Principal Ed Byrne to students:

Dear staff and students

I wanted to send out a brief note outlining some of the proposed changes in the way we will present the public image of King’s in the New Year and explain the rationale for them. What is proposed, as you will see from a public exhibition in February, is a very modest change similar to how several other large London university institutions are now presenting themselves. As an expression of our ambition for King’s, we will change our promotional name to ‘King’s London’, continue to use ‘King’s’ informally, but keep our legal name ‘King’s College London’ for legal documents, academic citations and the awarding of degrees.

Introducing the new brand is one part of a process of incremental change at King’s to improve our performance in both education and research as we aspire to be universally recognised as one of the world’s great universities. I have described this process elsewhere under the label of ‘King’s Futures’, a programme of initiatives to strengthen our profile in areas such as business, technology and the natural sciences, to enhance the student experience and to introduce greater internationalisation to our curriculum and student body. We will phase in the introduction of the new brand gradually over three years – starting with our website and the undergraduate prospectus – to ensure effective use of existing resources.

As you know King’s has evolved dramatically over recent decades to become one of the largest universities in the UK with vibrant activities in almost every area of academic endeavour. Our tradition is a long and honourable one and our name ‘King’s College London’, often abbreviated to ‘KCL’, is well known to the academic community and to most students in the UK. However, our research conducted over the last 18 months with potential students, parents, staff, students and alumni, revealed that our current name was causing considerable confusion: is King’s a residential college, is it an academic college akin to the colleges of Oxbridge, or is it an educational institution of some other type such as a further education college? Internationally, there was further misunderstanding as ‘College’ is not a widely understood term in many countries. Going forward, we will refer to ourselves as a university rather than a college wherever possible.

I fully recognise and understand that many staff and students, past and present, have an emotional connection to ‘College’, however I believe that in today’s highly competitive global marketplace, King’s needs to be bold about its ambitions and shout about its many achievements. The purpose of a very modest repositioning is to deal with these concerns sensitively and constructively.

We have prepared some FAQs where we provide more detail about the introduction of the new brand. If you have further questions, please get in touch with and the Brand Communications team will be happy to answer them.

Best wishes

Ed Byrne

President & Principal


  1. Cameron

    16 December, 2014 at 2:59 pm

    What a joke. The FAQ is one of the most bloated examples of marketing spiel I’ve seen in a while. ‘We do not need acronyms to describe ourselves’, says the FAQ posted at

    And they don’t really answer the question about spending the money on staff or Bursaries. Is KCL’s reputation really in such dire straits?

  2. Good Sense

    16 December, 2014 at 3:02 pm

    If a prospective student, British or overseas, is so fucking dense that they do not understand what ‘college’ means in the context of King’s College, London the university should have no interest taking such a moron on as a student.

    Oh, and King’s isn’t a brand and we are not ‘consumers’; we are students at a seat of learning.

    This is symptomatic of how a once respected university has fallen. Seb’s snivelling excuse that the plan was ‘confidential’ is pathetic.

    Vive la counter-Revolution.

    • Disappointed

      17 December, 2014 at 11:26 am

      Exactly! Not to mention that, following their logic, LSE should also undergo the same process because London School of Economics might sound confusing to a foreign student (they might think it’s a school, you see, not a university)!

      What a load of crap!

      It’s incredibly disappointing to see my favourite uni, where I did both my BA and MA, make a spectacle of itself.

  3. Laura

    16 December, 2014 at 3:06 pm

    Please explain how £300k on a re-brand and that awful, amateur-looking logo is worth it considering the amount of people who have just lost their jobs?
    It is more than an ’emotional connection’ to the word ‘College’. It is an emotional connection to wanting to avoid unnecessary expense. KCL has been ‘re-branded’ unsuccessfully quite a few times in the past and always reverted back to King’s College London. Why not spend the money on something else? Like improving grants and bursaries available.
    And seriously, which of the ‘potential students, parents, staff, students and alumni’ did you consult over the past 18 months? Because the majority of us have only just found out and are OUTRAGED by the proposition.
    And on a side note, those who do not ‘understand’ what the ‘College’ in KCL means have no business being associated with an academic institution of KCL’s calibre. You would have to be an absolute cretin to not understand it.

  4. Robert Samarji

    16 December, 2014 at 4:20 pm

    Wouldn’t it make more sense, if a rebrand must go ahead, to at least make sure it makes grammatical sense – “King’s London”… really Ed, really?

    • Laura

      16 December, 2014 at 4:26 pm

      Clearly they intend to imply that the King owns London.

      • Robert Samarji

        16 December, 2014 at 4:31 pm

        Which.. they clearly don’t..

  5. Laura

    16 December, 2014 at 4:28 pm

    If anyone would care to join me in expressing their outrage over social media, please use the hashtag #KCLforever
    Since we have been expressing our opinions today this email has made the rounds, so clearly someone is taking notice of the storm on Facebook!

  6. L_M

    16 December, 2014 at 4:56 pm

    The logo itself is vile, looking like it was cooked up in about five minutes on Paint. Byrne’s letter and the FAQ are completely vapid and an insult to our intelligence. Suggestion: maybe the people ‘confused’ about the name (assuming that any exist) lack the intelligence to be at KCL. Yes, KCL. The fact that the SU were obviously in cahoots with this doesn’t help.

    But above all, the £300k cost is sickening given the number of cleaning staff recently made redundant, the selling off of affordable university residences, and a host of other things going on recently.

  7. Aysha

    18 December, 2014 at 5:36 pm

    while they fire over 100 research staff from the medical department for not having ‘enough funds’ they spend 300K on the shittest logo I have ever seen. Disgrace

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