The specialisation of curriculum leads to some interesting phenomena. There is, for example, a strand of luxury brands in degrees in luxury brand management. Luxury brands: that particular form of consumption that means you can buy a watch for the price of a car, a car for the price of a house, and a house for the price of small country, continue to be a boom industry. A boom industry is a good thing for graduates with an eye on future employment, and universities have stepped in to offer courses.
I think this shows that rather than Universities being adverse to the ‘market’, actually they are quite adept. There’s a diversity even within the ‘luxury brand’ brand, as courses focus on different aspects, with flavours of fashion, product design or marketing depending on the school involved. The course descriptions show students will engage with a wide variety of disciplinary techniques, and there’s even a welcome sense from Southampton’s course of an atmosphere of some robust criticism of the whole luxury brand business.
… the [Winchester Luxury Research Group] encompasses luxury-based production across the areas of fine art, design and media; and is engaged in a range of research projects that concern the theory and practice of concepts such as pleasure and sumptuousness, excess and waste, extravagance and consumption…
Freed from the regulated system of undergraduate courses, there is also a range of fees charged for these courses – ranging in my sample from £6950 to £22452. Care is needed in making comparisons as these courses range in length and some involve study internationally. The differences are not that great and certainly not as wide a range as in MBA courses (where the LBS MBA is priced at a sumptuous fee of £70800).
The following are examples of the courses on offer (other luxury brands may be available):
Birmingham City University MA Luxury Brand Management £12000 (£14500 Int)
Glasgow Caledonian University (London) MBA Luxury Brand Management £8400 (£12600 Int)
Nottingham Trent University MA Luxury Fashion Brand Management £7500 (£12600 Int)
Ravensbourne MDes Luxury Brand Management Innovation £8500 (£13500 Int)
Southampton University MA Design: Luxury Brand Management £18500
West London University MA Luxury Design Innovation and Brand Management £6950 (£10995 Int)
And, just to show that the ‘Challenger Institutions’ can respond to markets as well, there are a number offering masters’ courses as well:
Regent’s University MA Luxury Brand Management £19950
London College of Contemporary Arts (International Telematic University) MA Fashion, Retail and Luxury Management £7000 (£10000 Int)
London School of Business & Finance MA in Strategic Marketing (Luxury Brand Management) £7500
University of Law MSc Fashion, Design and Luxury Management £22452
Although Government might grumble about market failure – which I think is code for annoyance that most UG fees in England are £9000 (at least before discounts). It must be noted that happened because of the very particular arrangements they made for fees and loans (and the outcome of which was predicted). PG courses show that away from regulation prices vary, and universities develop distinctive courses. No doubt more courses will follow (and students may find that they can’t all get jobs designing or marketing luxury brands) but that’s the market – the one we’ve always had in Higher Education.