Chickening out

June 4, 1999

When Paul Mackney, general secretary of Natfhe, says that "you can't run further education like Kentucky Fried Chicken" (Analysis, THES, May 28), does "can't" here mean "incapable of"?

KFC is excellent at franchising. Its franchisees offer a market-tested product of standard quality. It operates under the KFC name, paying fees to the franchisor.

And, with a strong business interest in the franchisee, the franchisor makes certain that poor quality is penalised. Whichever KFC one goes to, the chicken wings taste exactly the same.

But none of these characteristics was attained in further education franchising, which is therefore a misnomer. Are there, however, plausible reasons why KFC's achievements could not have been replicated?

One reason, I suggest, might be the knee-jerk aversion to applying the principles of business to further education.

Clive Belfield

School of educationUniversity of Birmingham

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