Should Universities be learning from Supermarkets?

Universities are encouraged to learn from Supermarket consumer-led strategies:

He recommended that institutions should embrace social media as a feedback tool and to enable “two-way communication” with students because traditional methods of complaining were out of date.

“If I am unhappy about something, I don’t write a nice letter and wait for a reply. I start broadcasting to my 8,500 followers. Everyone is their own broadcaster, with their own listeners,” he said.

Meanwhile, Peter Slee, deputy vice-chancellor of the University of Huddersfield, told the conference in London that joining a gym was a good analogy when discussing student-institution relations.

Although gyms – and universities – could provide classes, facilities, staff and guidance at a certain cost, success and happiness with the price paid were ultimately down to the commitment of an individual, Professor Slee said.

“You get out of a service what you put into it. Motivation and commitment to study is the biggest factor in whether students are happy.”

Read full story. I’m wary about the idea of universities being ‘consumerised’, but I definitely think we should be listening to the students, and helping the students understand that they have a responsibility to put the effort in.


‘Customer’ isn’t always right: market model could lead to disaster

Prevailing dogma could ruin the academy and produce a generation of dependent, unmotivated, risk-averse students, argues Neal Curtis

Current dogma states that all aspects of society should be subject to the principles and logic of marketisation, and part of this dogma – which is gaining wider currency within higher education – is the belief that quality can be improved through the adoption of the customer model. Fortunately, at the University of Nottingham, the particularity of the student-teacher relationship has not yet been subsumed by the misguided belief that learning is just another version of the more transcendental relation of supply and demand.

Of course I believe improvements can be made to my own teaching, and I know my colleagues commit a great deal of time to rethinking lectures – introducing new research and practical examples that help students to grasp the material we present.

We are committed to student feedback and to new technologies, and are not afraid to rewrite courses or even entire programmes in response to social and cultural changes and the ever-changing needs of students heading into a competitive jobs market.

However, this is all part of “old-school” pedagogy. We do not have to think of our students as customers to ensure our classes are interesting, informative and accessible.

Read full story in Times Higher Education.