Student complaints on the rise
Student complaints have risen by 33% in England and Wales, a figure regarded as clear evidence of a growing consumerist attitude. And of course this is exactly what was anticipated and hoped for by Lord Browne in his report that recommended raising tuition fees.
Rob Behrens, head of the independent adjudicator’s office, has said:
‘There has been a lot of policy discussion about fees in the past year and it’s concentrated students’ minds into thinking about the merits of what they’re getting.
‘It’s encouraged them to be more like consumers – and consumers are more likely to complain,” said Mr Behrens.
But this begs a number of questions, such as, why are consumers more likely to complain, say, than students, citizens or inmates? Also if this new consumer culture in higher education is to be welcomed is it because of a new found willingness among students to complain? Are student complaints integral to improving higher education – assuming, of course, that there is something currently wrong with higher education that only customer complaints can fix? In other words, what will consumerism remedy in higher education?
Also, how will universities responded to the rise in customer complaints? Will they offer refunds, discounts and exchanges to dissatisfied customers? Or will universities and their staff become more defensive? Will they become more adept at managing customer expectations? Will we see the growth in an institutional culture of arse-covering?
Fuck me, there are so many questions.
Behrens also said that a tough graduate jobs market had made students more aware of the importance of university.
Really? In what way are students more aware of the importance of university? Does this awareness manifest itself in a diligent and conscientious approach to study? Or a new, aggressive culture of complaint and litigation?
We’ll know shortly.