I remember the evening I saw an advert in Vogue for the Conde Nast School. I was an undergraduate tottering on the precipice of the adult world, knowing that I wanted to immerse myself in the industry of Chanel tweed suits and late nights at the Met, yet not quite knowing how. A course led by the industry bible would surely be my gateway. Yet after a quick Google, I perceived a major roadblock, in the form of £19,560. Excluding VAT.
£19,560 is over double what any average student would pay to study for a Masters at Oxford University. I could give lectures on how courses like this, akin to the elitist world of internships at Conde Nast, are socially exclusionary and act as cognitive deterrents to poorer prospective editors, designers, stylists and press officers. But what is particularly interesting here is the internal economics of the course.
The ‘Vogue Fashion Foundation Diploma’ runs alongside the university year, with one term of studying ‘within the context of the wider fashion industry’ before going on to specialize in a plethora of specialisms. Term three involves working independently on a ‘major, final creative project.’
WWP may be an out-an-out cynic but I cannot be the only one who thinks this is a load of bollocks. In depth study of ‘the entire spectrum of fashion’ in 8 weeks is something you could probably achieve yourself after reading a couple of hatchet job biographies, watching The September Issue and subscribing to Karla’s Closet. Put simply, the internet has eradicated the appeal of ‘talks with industry experts.’ Term Two’s specialist focus is also questionable. How can such a small college accommodate tutoring, expertise and guidance in every sector of the fashion industry? The answer: work experience! That’s right, ‘students on the one-year Vogue Fashion Foundation Diploma will spend a period of work experience on location in Europe or another part of the UK.’ They then finish this banquet of exploitation off with a an entire term without any teaching hours.
However snobbishly exclusive this course is, no student should have to pay this much for this little. This is not a qualification, this is nearly £20,000 for substandard work experience. Even more ludicrous is the fact that the College itself does appear to deem the course worthy as a career-enabler. Instead of advertising the incredible job prospects on offer after completion, Conde Nast claims their students will be ‘well placed to enter [another] degree programme’ but bewilderingly ‘cannot pledge work placements for all students at Condé Nast or at any other business.’
If you ever lamented the fact that only the rich and connected could work for Conde Nast, get ready to lament the fact that it will soon become the rich, connected, and economically wasteful.