Your anonymous opinion piece, "Maintain standards? That's way more than my job's worth" (17 March), reflects unease at the increasing volume of the "student voice" as a quality control instrument in contemporary higher education. However, the sentiment is hardly a novel one. It adds to what may be seen as a corpus of rather confused anti-student satisfaction survey discourse that has been developing since at least the early 1990s.
Although I have every sympathy with the author's view that students are not simply "consumers" (thanks, Lord Mandelson), I cannot agree that they are merely "our raw material". We are all part of a transformative process in which both sides contribute.
Hence, much of the research into the impact of student-feedback surveys (particularly at the institutional level) indicates that students can and do have a positive influence on their own experience of higher education. Where institutions work with their students through a meaningful feedback or action process, core problems can be identified and addressed.
This process depends on a clear understanding of the purpose of collecting student feedback, which surely is about identifying areas that need improvement.
James Williams, Associate editor, Quality in Higher Education, Birmingham City University