Stand And Deliver @timeshighered

So university students will pay higher fees, unless they are poor, and pay them as debts rather than as taxes. Parliament in both houses has decided.

What happens next? If students are to be customers, will they exercise the power that traditionally belongs to those who buy? The adage about paying the piper and calling the tune suddenly looks apt. In any consumer society the customer is king. Tomorrow’s student may not be that. But he may be a student prince, and an old operetta could become the tune of the times.


The student prince of the third millennium will demand better teaching and more of it; in arts subjects, at least, a trickle of complaints about bad lecturing could soon become a flood. The usual solution was to not go to the bad lectures; but that will look less like an option if you are paying through the nose.


Of the Three Great Rules – put your notes high, look at the back row and do not drop your voice – only the first, which can be done at once, can be consciously remembered and obeyed. The other two can be observed only as a cyclist unconsciously obeys the laws of ballistics. I have no idea how that happens, and can only say it feels wonderful.

The student prince, silent or censorious in the back row, will probably expect nothing else.

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All good advice, as we look to provide more interactive, more interesting learning. Occasionally, however, there is material that has to be got through… and there may be no ‘fascinating’ way to teach this. Are students best placed to judge, and are they judging as if teaching is a packet of washing powder on a shelf. We are not here to give students ‘content’, but to encourage them to become active learners…