As the first cohort of students who had to pay £9,000 per year in University fees graduate this year, I wonder how they found their University experience, was it value for money? Are they more consumer savvy?
The fees certainly have not impacted the numbers applying for places at Universities, as was initially predicted. However, with fees now at an all-time high it comes as no surprise that students are seeing their relationship with the University in more commercial terms. Students are becoming increasingly confident about voicing their concerns when things do not appear to a standard they would expect. Students are now seeing their relationship with their University as more of a contractual relationship. In truth it always was a contractual relationship, however by previously not being involved in the financial aspect of the transaction, students were less inclined to see the contractual element of their relationship with the University.
The terms and conditions of this contractual relationship are tied up in lots of different documents. Upon joining a University you should have at the very least access to information on the structure of your course, accreditation, progression regulations, complaints handling system and appeal processes. All this information usually forms part of the University and Faculty Handbook. It is important to pay attention to handbooks, regulations and policies handed to you as a student, after all these are the contractual terms and if you want to hold the University accountable for breaches, then you need to know where to find the terms they have breached.
Students have always experienced issues regarding the structure of their course, procedures not being followed, changes in content or teaching of the specific modules or the course as a whole. However only now are students less inclined to let Universities get away with bad practices. Before education was almost seen as a gift and students bowed down to the Universities demands. Now University education is something some of us will be repaying for a number of years post-graduation and for that we want more. I am seeing an increase in disgruntled students voicing their grievances and asking more often is this what I am paying for?