Customer questions 1

June 28, 2002

Stephen Burwood is correct: students are not customers ("Customer concerns", THES , June 21). As customers, we rarely aspire to perform the role of the person serving us; as students, we commonly do.

The student's role is best categorised as "post-Fordist apprentice". Students are producers: we are inducted into the appropriate mode of thought and behaviour; our product is a few early efforts at critical thought; our wages will be our grades. This status is most strongly confirmed by the lack of the main advantage of the Fordist apprentice: we have no certainty of stable employment using the skills we have gained.

Richard Brunner
London E3

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