Don't ditch 'trust' for 'service' 1

January 10, 2003

I am interested in the differing views of the function of higher education (Soapbox, THES , December 20/; Letters, THES , January 3). I studied for my bachelor and master of arts degrees as a mature student with a family. My daughter entered higher education after taking A levels and my son after 12 years in industry.

Although our experiences differed, our view of higher education is almost the same as that defined by my first tutor. A first degree helps you acquire a basic intellectual toolkit, and subsequent education or training helps you achieve your vocation.

To achieve both, students put their efforts into the care of teachers. This is a not a commercial transaction but a matter of mutual trust. A student is seldom in a position to assess the adequacy or appropriateness of the content or related standards of the goods - the discipline or subject - they have signed for, or the modes of delivery.

The student-tutor relationship is further complicated by the trend towards "vocational" degrees and widening participation. The former require that the intellectual toolkit and vocational applications are put across as a bolt-on unit, such as key skills, or integrated into the first degree. The latter means courses have to cater for differing learning skills.

Branding higher education a "service industry" trivialises the ethical, moral and professional nature of the "customer-provider" relationship. It also opens the door to the service becoming a "you-get-what-you-pay-for" operation, wherein the terms of the agreement may become more important than the standards of the content.

Margaret Rayner
High Wycombe

Please login or register to read this article.

Register to continue

Get a month's unlimited access to THE content online. Just register and complete your career summary.

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments


Featured jobs

Cloud Applications Manager

University Of Greenwich

Lecturer: Adult Nursing

University Of The West Of Scotland

Assistant Principal

Durham University

Content Manager

Cranfield University

Coaching Professional

Bpp University