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Focus Universities


more contact time with a tutor. “They said they would like as much as 16 hours a week and also to be in smaller groups because many were reporting that the tutor didn’t even know their name, which was a big issue. I spoke recently to The Sunday Times’ Editor” adds Porter, “and he was saying to me that their biggest postbag issues on education is parents complaining about the amount of contact time their children have with their tutors.” Faced with the prospect of rising tuition fees and tougher competition for places in the UK, more young people are starting to look abroad for their higher education. As Porter explains: “It won’t escape the attention of students and their parents that universities in the Netherlands and Scandinavia are off ering a year’s tuition for less than £1,000. Even some of the most prestigious universities in the United States, previously seen as prohibitively expensive are now on a par with UK universities, fee-wise.” But they may well be giving Scotland a wide berth, due to the Scottish government’s new university funding scheme, which allows Scottish universities to charge students from other parts of the UK, while students from other parts of the EU and Scotland are not charged fees. A legal case is being brought against the Scottish fees structure, on the basis that it infringes human rights. Welsh and Northern Irish students have also been spared the full £9,000 tuition fees, while English students have to pay the full whack wherever they study in the UK. As well as being unfair, this approach is also not


“ ”


The biggest postbag issues on education is parents complaining about the


amount of time their children have with their tutors


✏ THE DEAN’S


The new buzzword in higher education is the “Student as Customer”. In the USA, students are seen as customers: from their fi rst visit to campus to the time they graduate and continue to support the institution as alumni. Basic psychology says that the more something costs, the higher our perceived value of what we have consumed is. Therefore, the more a student is required to pay for their education, the more likely they are to behave like a customer as the overall expectation has been raised. Universities are going to have to justify why they are able to charge the elusive £9,000 per year. Certainly there are the prestigious universities – that based alone on their name, history and research are able to justify their cost. However, in the


end it comes down to the perceived value of the experience for the student and their families. The concept of the


student as a customer is of prominent


concern to British universities. A conference recently held in London addressed this subject. The key question asked was: what do students consider as perceived value when it comes to their education? The answer covers a myriad of areas from the availability of faculty, facilities, housing and student activities. Universities are also looking towards their quality assurance processes and revaluating what they measure. The emphasis of the value students are receiving for the cost of their education is now fi rmly in the spotlight. Students and their families are looking for guidance from their school counsellors for alternative higher education


options. Enter the private higher education sector. Previously it was glossed over as a luxury. This is no longer the case. Now that the fees are similar, the opportunity that these types of institutions off er to their students could be considered far more advantageous. They have had to justify their higher cost of attendance and as such have developed a natural response to the needs of their students. Today’s students live in a


“ ” globalised world. The option of


to adapt to meet the demands placed on them by a student body with higher expectations. It is perhaps important to keep in mind that universities are unique, and the loyalty and trust they build with their students are unprecedented. What is important to this process is treating people


The concept of the student as a


customer is of prominent concern to British universities


studying abroad is becoming more aff ordable. The US-UK Fulbright Commission – EducationUSA reported that there has been over a 30% increase in the number of UK students taking the SAT since 2008. This represents more than


with respect and dignity. If a university is successful in instilling this, it will meet the needs of the student, if not exceed them. Mark Kopenski is VP of Enrolment, at Richmond The American International University in London.


www.fi rstelevenmagazine.co.uk Autumn 2011 FirstEleven 41


Aaron Porter, former President of the NUS


sustainable says Lygo, “If you look at the Scottish universities, they most defi nitely need the investment and I don’t think it’s fair to have two people in the same classroom who are eff ectively being separated by being English or Scottish. “


He adds: “I think the biggest note of caution is that going forward, with a lack of funding into Scottish universities they’ll start to drop behind the English universities. Now that would be a big issue.”


Students are customers now VIEW


10,000 test takers. It is believed that this new interest in studying abroad is closely linked to the rise in fees at UK institutions, with the USA as the country of choice. UK institutions are going to have


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