Students first?

A survey in the United States of America has found that ‘nearly three out of five Americans believe that higher-education leaders put the long-term interests of their institutions first over the needs of students.’ This is, I suppose, a variant of the view held by some in this part of the world that managerialist higher education leaders prioritise business projects over educational excellence.

Whether or not that charge is justified, it is obviously true that universities are finding it necessary to implement a profitable business model to ensure institutional sustainability, and not just where income for institutions comes from private sources rather than from government funding. Tight public funding also requires universities to deploy entrepreneurial creativity.

The nirvana of universities receiving generous financial support from the taxpayer on a demand-led basis is not one we will experience again – it is an impossible scenario in a setting of mass higher education. A university business plan is not of itself a denial of academic values. But it does make it ever more important that institutional values are clearly expressed, reinforced and widely applied. The needs of students must always be one of the most important; if we marginalise this, we have lost all purpose. And if students believe we have done so, we have an urgent need to put that right.

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One Comment on “Students first?”

  1. Vince Says:

    I offer my sympathy to Manchester. A horrible nasty attack upon kids. Of all the targets they could’ve taken, to view a tweeny pop concert as legitimate is pure rancid.

    Not to the topic. I think loyalty to the undergrad members of universities is quite thin. And the assertions of quality is rarely deployed with the second word ‘teaching’, yes you see quality research but never teaching in the bumph you see from any site. Indeed when I get the Alumni Mag there is an endless line of suits shaking hands with golden gowns with nary a word about the students. Something I believe is indicative of the underlying thinking.

    Of course the problem the students have is they have to depend upon the good will of others to assure the quality, something which may or may not have any basis in how things are run.

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