Consumption values and empowerment of the student as customer: taking a rational look inside higher education's 'Pandora's Box'
Friday, 21 December 2012 | Admin
Consumption values and empowerment of the student as customer: taking a rational look inside higher education's 'Pandora's Box' by Jeroen Van Andel, Charles Pimentel Botas and Jeroen Huisman
There has been much debate on the concept of student as customer/consumer in higher education but little empirical research, most of which lacks a solid theoretical framework. This article summarises the key arguments in the literature and their shortcomings, proposes a framework to analyse student perceptions and behaviour, and reports research using that framework. The theory of consumption values and the theory of power relations are used to understand and explain students’ experiences with demand-driven education in the Netherlands. The research suggests that some consumption values are directly related to students’ sense of empowerment and control over their own education and future, promoting student commitment to and engagement with learning. Students make rational choices informed by their educational and professional needs, and intellectual interests. The exercise of students’ choice does not threaten innovation and academic standards but, on the contrary, is a driver for innovation in the curriculum and in research and thus for academic standards. Students are the main customers of higher education and higher education institutions should treat them with the respect and dedication that they deserve.