As Brexit looms closer, various schemes for Britain to “find new markets” will be touted. One approach will be to suggest that because our higher education is the most expensive in the world, that means that (in the immortal words of Tina Turner) it must also be “simply the best, better than all the rest“. We once said the same about our banks.

Putting too many eggs in one basket is unwise. Claiming that something must be good because it is expensive is dangerous. Suddenly making it very expensive overnight, as occurred when fees tripled from £3,000 to £9,000 a year and then suggesting that the price reflects sudden new found quality assumes that you are aiming your marketing at some very stupid people who do not understand when they are being conned.

The raising of fees might be ever so slightly defendable, as a short-term fix for when the global financial crisis hit. It prevented mass redundancies in universities. But as a long-term strategy, it moved English higher education closer to becoming a finishing school for the less discerning and less able of the world’s very richest children. For these children, as Tina Turner also said (in Simply the Best), we can provide: “a lifetime of promises and a world of dreams“.

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