Universities are been warned about treating students as
“consumers purchasing degree
Michael Farthing, the incoming chair of the
1994 group, has challenged the government’s plans for a shake up of
higher education in England. In his speech Professor Farthing
voiced concern over the government’s white paper which outlines a
system shaped by competition and market forces.
We cannot fall into the trap of reducing
higher education to a set of simple transactions. Universities are
so much more than warehouses that sell off-the-shelf
qualifications, and students are more than consumers purchasing
degree certificates," said Professor Farthing.
"We need to talk about the student experience
less in terms of transactions and more in terms of relationships.
Universities are communities where people come together to create
and share knowledge."
The government is trying to create more
competition on price between universities, with an allocation of
20,000 undergraduate places for courses where tuition fees are
A spokesperson for the Department for
Business, Innovation and Skills said the changes in funding,
information and places would help students.
"Up to now, the number of places at each
university has been set centrally. That is not in the interests of
"So, in 2012-13, one quarter of all places
will be freed from number controls, with greater liberalisation in
later years. That means more diverse provision, more student choice
and more accountable institutions.
"People have a range of reasons for going to
university but it is vital that they have the information at their
fingertips to make well-informed decisions about what and where to
study. We want to see the best possible match between universities
With so many graduates unemployed it is important to
give students the information they need to make a decision on what
degree to take. What industries are currently struggling to get
graduates with the required skill set and which offer the best
career paths. The amount of competition per graduate job has
meant that it is increasingly important for graduates to take into
account the graduate