Leader: Not too cool for school

September 8, 2006

Since long before Tony Blair's Ugly Rumours were failing to sweep all before them at Oxford University, students have seen pop stardom as a desirable (if elusive) form of graduate employment. That more appear to be succeeding in the 21st century is one of the by-products of mass higher education. Not only has the pool of potential "gownie" stars grown hugely, but it has become correspondingly less uncool to have been to university. Where once only art college was an acceptable entry on a rock star's CV (preferably before dropping out), now the full range of universities and subjects can be admitted to.

So far, however, universities have been slow to capitalise on some of their best known (and possibly richest) alumni. Even institutions that lay public claim to soap stars and rugby players draw the line at the pop fraternity.

Perhaps marketing departments are worried that their star graduate's next media appearance will be at a rehabilitation clinic or magistrates' court, or that a lyrical portrayal of his or her alma mater may be less than flattering. But when it comes to raising their profile among potential applicants universities are missing a trick.

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