Tag: consumer

Recorded seminar on consumerism in American higher education

We are delighted to share with you another seminar recording from the research group HEIK (Higher Education: Institutional dynamics and Knowledge cultures). HEIK is a research group located at the Faculty of Educational Sciences in University of Oslo, the coordinating institution of Hedda.

Professor Christopher Morphew  (University of Iowa)

Professor Christopher Morphew
(University of Iowa)

This time, we are pleased to feature professor Christopher Morphew from University of Iowa who visited University of Oslo in June 2014 and gave a presentation titled: “Academic Consumerism: The American Advantage?

Listen without the Flashplayer

The presentation will draw from several recent articles by Professor Morphew.

Please see: 




Guest blogger: How students become consumers of higher education

Dr. Joanna Williams
(University of Kent, UK)

In this post, dr Joanna Williams from University of Kent (UK) argues that there is a complex process by which students adopt a consumer perspective to higher education, and it is not merely tuition fees that contribute to this. 

The entry draws on her recent book “Consuming Higher Education: Why Learning Can’t Be Bought“, London: Bloomsbury. 

Recent news reports suggest the true cost of a university education for English students may be close to £100,000. It is perhaps not surprising then that students are increasingly described as ‘consumers’ of higher education (HE) (see Brown: 2011 and Molesworth, Nixon and Scullion: 2011). In Consuming Higher Education: Why Learning Can’t Be Bought I argue that the payment of university tuition fees (currently £9000 each year for English students) is a symptom rather than a cause of students being considered as consumers. Students are constructed as consumers both before entering HE and while at university by a range of government policies and institutional practices, many of which pre-date tuition fees paid by individual students. Indeed, students were first referred to as ‘customers’ of HE in government publicity in 1993, five years before they were required to pay any fees at all (see the Conservative government’s 1993 Charter for Higher Education).

Students are constructed as consumers from the moment they first begin to think about attending university. Government-sponsored websites offering guidance to school children present university as mainly concerned with future employment and material reward: ‘Higher education could boost your career prospects and earning potential … on average, graduates tend to earn substantially more  … Projected over a working lifetime, the difference is something like £100,000’. The government’s perception of the benefit of HE emerges clearly: it is to enable youngsters to get a job and earn money. Education is presented as an essentially private investment from which material rewards can be accrued. The ‘good consumer’ will shop around to choose the university that will most efficiently yield the highest return on their investment.