Monday, January 04, 2010

Students or Customers?

Richard Vedder responds to this question, along with other higher ed experts - Stephen Joel Trachtenberg, Edward Snyder, David Bejou and Mark Taylor - in Monday's NY Time's Room for Debate forum. Below are Dr. Vedder's comments:
Since student evaluations of professors became commonplace 35 years ago, students have played a greater role in campus decision-making. The growth in grade inflation, the near abandonment of Friday classes on many campuses, and the provision of country club-like facilities are three indicators that universities increasingly look at students as customers requiring pampering.

As tuition costs soar and the pool of college age Americans starts to shrink, this trend will grow. As a consequence, however, universities are endangering their reputation as being rigorously committed to academic excellence.

Surveys show that typically students study, attend class and write papers fewer than 30 hours a week, for only about 30 weeks a year. While the typical American employee works 1,800 hours a year, the typical college student works half that amount on academics.

The “student as customer” philosophy has created an underworked and overindulged group of future national leaders, something that likely will prove costly in the long run.


Steve said...

Half the time the problem is that colleges aren't competitive enough, there is no market disicipline. But this time, the problem is that there is too much market discipline.

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Overlook said...

When I toured OU, I was impressed by the changes - the recreational facility, Baker Center, et al. My initial reaction was, "That is really cool". While attending OU, I used the recreational facilities and the old Baker Center. The recreational facilities were, to me, similar to what you would find in a prison. But they were suitable and adequate.

Ever since I have been reading CCAP's Blog and my few prized discussions with Rich Vedder, I have come to wonder if the "Country Club - like" ammenities were intended to help attract students, retain students, or some other reason that escapes me. On the other hand, I also see more under utilized floorspace.

Consider the new engineering facility. It may very well have been needed, but I wonder if other options were considered. Are there other buildings that had available classrooms during the day or evening? It is my humble opinion that each "school" considers themselves to be independent and seperate from all other "schools".

This is very inefficient. I believe colleges (and students) should consider operating year- round with the benefit being more efficient utilization of floor space and the opportunity for students to graduate in 3 calendar years. But I doubt this will ever happen because I don't see any strong leadership that can change the way schools operate - similar to how a CEO of a corporation has the power and leadership capabilities to force change.

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Scheevel said...

This made me giggle.
Tuition on the Rocks
In order to encourage student activism this Student Organization has to sponsor a happy hour with an open bar and bill it as a "social gathering". It really is a country club atmosphere.

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