Higher education institutions are increasingly more focused on the prestige and branding of the university rather than the quality of education offered at the institution. This emphasis on reputation has translated from institutions towards students, who are now more than ever considering the prestige of the university they attend over the types of courses or educational opportunities offered by said institutions. One company has decided to take a different approach to college branding, utilizing both business esteem and a focus on education to draw in students.
BrandEd, deciding to give into “branded colleges,” offers a unique educational experience tailored to the operation of its partner companies. Launching in 2018, the company “works with the world’s best brands to create educational courses that no other institution can offer.” They already have licensing agreements with The New York Times, City Football Group, Sotheby’s and Condé Nast. Although some of these brands had established educational goals before the company got involved, with the help of BrandEd, they are able to redesign the curriculum to focus more on educating students instead of enhancing corporate prestige.
According to BrandEd CEO Michael Chung, BrandEd is different from other big-business brands because they are owned and operated by a family investment office instead of the traditional venture capital outfit; this “patent capital” allows them to “take a long wire and build slowly and intentionally — which is exactly what is needed to build high-quality education programs.” Many collegiate institutions prioritize profit over the student body. This patent capitol allows for more flexibility with funds and less investor pressure for profit from universities.
BrandEd colleges provide unique competition to other established universities reliant on branding to attract their student population. With esteemed universities simply relying on the weight of their name to attract the student body, BrandEd colleges rely on the prowess in passion fields to attract students to a unique learning environment. High-brand accredited universities are not a new concept. Incorporating independent non-educational institutions into higher education spaces is new and bound to stimulate competition between universities targeting students in BrandEd fields. This precedent has been lost amongst many higher education institutions that prioritize profits and prestige over the educational needs of the student body.
When big business and corporate America are referenced around academia, the mind immediately draws to stock exchanges and “Goldman Sachs University.” BrandEd strays from the traditional business venture, focusing on “passion education.” Chung’s goal is to benefit and stimulate those pursuing their passion through education; graduates from BrandEd universities are already successfully securing jobs in the arts, fashion, sports and so many other aspirational industries. The arts are often neglected in conversations about education, and creating institutions that highlight these fields only stimulates education for the better.
Although there is still a way to go before BrandEd educational institutions can be considered a success, this intersection between education and business holds promise. The combination of prestige provided by the industry and educational policy offered by BrandEd creates the perfect environment to attract students away from big-name universities towards these new passion-centric projects.