Neo-liberal capitalism is a representation of values that are detrimental to intellectual inquiry. Market deregulation and consumer choice are relentless in their erosion of academic autonomy and traditions of independent scholarship. Education as a ‘positional good’ may be weakened more in the post-1992 higher education sector, where consumer-oriented quality assurance is used strategically to bolster prestige and so improve relative competitive advantage (for student recruitment and external monies), than in the pre-1992 Russell Group of universities, which privileges academic research and autonomy from regulation. The university as an intellectual public domain is subject to suppression by capitalism’s deployment of a putatively enlightened ‘student voice’. This neo-liberal embrace of ‘student experience’ is evidenced in the privileging of choice and satisfaction anchored in the envisaging of earning power as a basic touchstone of relevance. Globalisation’s Trojan Horse, the authors argue, is embodied in the positivism of the quantitative metrics of the National Student Survey, designed by global giant Ipsos MORI. The argument that a ranking of universities on the results of the National Student Survey demonstrates excellence begs the question of what the university is for.