“The problem with Watford is, with the best will in the world, a lot of kids wanted to study on the programme, and even though our fees were low at four grand a year, once you added the cost of living – the cost of accommodation, which was always on the increase anyway in London, the travel expenses – you’re talking about tens of thousands of pounds to study on a programme,” he says. As such, even though students might have wanted to go to Watford, many of them could no longer afford it.
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Last year, it was announced that Tony Cullingham – leader of the renowned Watford Advertising Course – would be hanging up his shoes after 30 years helming the programme. It had become a talent pipeline for the ad industry; think of pretty much any big UK creative agency and you’ll find an ex-Watford student among the senior ranks. Yet by 2021, it was a different picture. “I felt that Watford was reaching a natural end – I only had four students at the time that I left,” he tells us.