Elite Universities as Luxury Brands

Author: Haochen Sun

In Academic Brands by Mario Biagioli and Madhavi Sunder

Publisher: Cambridge University Press

Publication date: July 2022, open access p.103-124

Abstract: The 2019 college admissions bribery scandal revealed uncomfortable truths about elite higher education and its conspicuous consumption. In this chapter, I explore the legal implications of treating higher education as a luxury good reflecting wealth and status. Like luxury goods companies, elite universities are regarded as owners of luxury brands. Just as companies such as Louis Vuitton, Ferrari, and Hermès own brands that enjoy a high level of exclusivity and serve conspicuous consumption, so too do elite universities. In the minds of many, Harvard, Stanford, and Yale are analogous to Louis Vuitton, Ferrari, and Hermès. This “luxurification” of higher education, however, perpetuates class division and violates the right to education.

To read the full chapter, please visit https://www.cambridge.org/core/books/academic-brands/elite-universities-as-luxury-brands/4F0209064D9ED783E82DA729DD4A709E