The student customer

Money Sterling Cash British Pounds Currency Coin
Show me the money?

Recently a significant amount of research has been released showcasing the increasing impact of international students on UK Higher Education. In a recent paper I wrote I talk about an increasing practice known as ‘consumerisation’, which I define as a “social phenomenon that empowers buyers and consumers, keeping a check on companies to ensure that the customers receive quality products and or services at the correct price”  (Jabbar et al, 2017)

In my recent paper I argue that UK higher education, business schools in particular are going through a period of significant change. During my research it became clear that the continued recruitment of UK, EU and international students is crucial for financial stability, viability and independence. This view was taken by the majority of the academics I interviewed. Many had different views but it became clear that due to increasingly competitive funding models across the sector, many institutional leaders and administrators are now making decisions typical of highly marketised consumer environments.

While it may seem strange to talk about HE in terms of service and consumers, the introduction of tuition fees by the government to fund undergraduate and postgraduate degrees has created a marketised environment in the UK . Originally, government policy set tuition fees to £9000 per year (Browne 2010) in the hope that not every university would charge this maximum amount, hence creating a market of choice and competition. However, universities not wishing to appear ‘second best’, or ‘second rate’, from the offset, charged the maximum amount, thus hardening student attitudes towards education encapsulated in the view ‘I’ve paid my money give me my degree’.

Thus, in this paper I explore academics’ perceptions of the impact of consumerisation in UK higher education business schools. To achieve this, 22 business school academics were interviewed within three UK higher education institutions (HEIs) in the North of England. The findings of my paper indicate that academics perceived the introduction of tuition fees to have been the catalyst for students increasing demonstration of customer-like behaviour: viewing the education process as transactional, with the HEI providing a ‘paid for’ service.

You can read more about my paper and its findings here:

https://link.springer.com/content/pdf/10.1007/s10734-017-0196-z.pdf

 

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