Listen to the whistling in the dark

September 25, 1998

Self-regulation facilitates friend-of-friend networks, bullying and whitewashing to protect staff careers and commercial viability.

What we really need to tackle are the anachronistic notions that students are children to be talked down to, and that they must just put up and shut up. Whether Dennis Farrington and the universities (old or new) like it or not, students are consumers now, and a truly independent legal framework for consumers is the best way to resolve disputes about the quality of services. Universities are feudal institutions not because of old cloistered buildings and quaint honorifics, but because of the anachronistic structures and privileges they hold. Of course compulsory arbitration is not welcomed by the universities: without regulation would shops and businesses maintain quality and fair prices? Self-regulation and the just price: now that really is medieval.

C. C. Floyd Brighton

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