Just found a letter from previous Institute Director, GB Jeffery, to Professor Margaret Read, regarding the proposed name change of the Colonial Department to the Department of Tropical Education. Jeffery states “‘Tropical education’, if it means anything at all, means education which is hot and damp. Is that what you provide?”.
While I kind of agree that ‘tropical areas’ is a little ambiguous to say the least, I do admire and sympathise with Read’s point of view that the name of the department can indicate their intentions, and change in purpose and perspective (her original argument, can be found in the same folder, ref IE/COL/4/1). After all, it had been many years since the Division of Overseas Students had been created (1934), and the department began to train students from colonial counries, rather than mostly missionaries as it had started (and by this point, also, non-colonial countries such as Sudan and Egypt).
The letter is dated 21 March 1950. According to Richard Aldrich’s history of the Institute the department’s first name change came about in 1952, when it beacame the Department of Education Tropical Areas (ETA).