The Atlantic is carrying a piece on the origins of tuition inflation in the US. Its an instructive look at the way University education is being marketed in North America. The focus of the article is the one-time president of George Washington University who is credited with kick-starting the tuition fee-boom. It seems the “premium-vodka” approach to marketing is key:
The way Trachtenberg saw it, selling George Washington over the other schools was like selling one brand of vodka over another. Vodka, he points out, is a colorless, odorless liquid that varies little by maker. He realized the same was true among national private universities: It was as simple as raising the price and upgrading the packaging to create the illusion of quality. Trachtenberg gambled that prospective students would see costly tuition as a sign of quality, and he was right. “People equate price with the value of their education,” he says.