Eat your way to success

Posted March 02, 2011

Eat your way to success

The age of the supermarket degree is upon us.

It’s not enough to sell us insurance and banking on top of our weekly groceries. Now the supermarkets want a stake (no pun intended) in our education too.

Exeter has become the latest university to say that it will charge the maximum £9,000 for tuition fees. Students are being priced out of traditional university campus life and the attraction for cheaper online courses seems certain to grow.

Never one to miss out on a brand development opportunity, Tesco has already muscled in on the action. It is joining forces with RDI, an education company that runs distance-learning courses over the internet for universities, in a scheme that will help students pay off their college fees. Tesco shoppers will be able to put their Clubcard reward points towards their online university course. Spend £250 at Tesco and £15 will go towards your tuition fees. In principle this sounds like a helpful initiative. And yet it depresses me.

What will happen if education becomes the latest marketing battleground for supermarkets and fast food chains? The food retail industry says it is a natural step to move into education. Is it? Well, I don’t look upon education as another consumer product. Tapping into someone’s educational aspirations in order to make a quick profit is wrong.

Given their zeal for domination of any market they enter it may just be a matter of time before the supermarkets and fast food chains take over completely. Ok, so that’s a particularly nightmarish vision of British academia. But with companies like McDonalds already offering their own degree course in business management, it doesn’t seem beyond the realms of possibility.

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