Stefan Collini on student fees:
“The fundamental conceptual mistake of this system is to treat education as a ‘product’ that an individual ‘consumer’ purchases from an individual ‘provider’. It is not hard to see how these assumptions can lead to lines of students standing at the tills arguing for their consumer rights to a higher grade of degree (‘I’ve paid good money, I’m entitled to a good degree’). And it is not hard to see how universities are thereby encouraged to market themselves and to prioritise getting good scores for student ‘satisfaction’ rather than providing a rigorous but exacting education.
“It does not have to be like this. Ours is an enormously wealthy country that can easily afford to support a high-quality system of public higher education – even if it is felt that there is not sufficient political will to return to a proper system of public funding.”
Professor Collini is right that the consumer product market approach to higher education is ill-conceived. It defines parameters for engagement between students and institutions that are unhelpful for intellectual development.
Things are, however, worse than he represents because there has been little movement in streamlining the information required for students and institutions to make good decisions. Ensuring that students had their grades, last year’s NSS results and updated KIS data before finalising their choices would be a start.
Read the full article on The Guardian website.