Constructing a national higher education brand for the UK: positional competition and promised capitals

Sylvie Lomer, Vassiliki Papatsiba, Rajani Naidoo

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86 Citations (SciVal)


This article examines national branding of UK higher education, a strategic intent and action to collectively brand UK higher education with the aim to attract prospective international students, using a Bourdieusian approach to understanding promises of capitals. We trace its development between 1999 and 2014 through a sociological study, one of the first of its kind, from the ‘Education UK’ and subsumed under the broader ‘Britain is GREAT’ campaign of the Coalition Government. The findings reveal how a national higher education brand is construed by connecting particular representations of the nation with those of prospective international students and the higher education sector, which combine in the brand with promises of capitals to convert into positional advantage in a competitive environment. The conceptual framework proposed here seeks to connect national higher education branding to the concept of the competitive state, branded as a nation and committed to the knowledge economy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)134-153
Number of pages20
JournalStudies in Higher Education
Issue number1
Early online date17 Mar 2016
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • branding
  • capitals
  • international education
  • international students
  • marketization
  • neo-liberalism


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