Degrees cost but are not for sale 1

November 18, 2005

So Sir Howard Newby thinks that the introduction of top-up fees will turn students into consumers and lecturers into service providers ("'Customer' students to call tune", November 11). While his argument has deep roots in economics and sociology, it is factually inaccurate.

People go to great lengths to differentiate their relationships, including those involving money. Contrary to popular and academic belief, money doesn't automatically flatten, strip or transformrelationships. And while the introduction of fees has the potential to change the dynamic between students and universities, client/server relations require extensive institutional and organisational machinery to function, machinery that monetary exchange alone cannot provide.

I suspect that even Sir Howard realises that his monetary exchanges with his family differ from those in the supermarket.

Jeffrey Roberts

Lecturer in social research methods

London South Bank University

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