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Consuming Higher Education

Why Learning Can’t be Bought

Consuming Higher Education explores the status of students within the university and society, and the funding and purpose of higher education, drawing on empirical data, UK and USA government policy documents, speeches by policy makers and media representations of students. Joanna Williams moves beyond the debates surrounding fees to consider the impact of the consumption model on universities, learning, knowledge, and student identity. While consumer status initially appears to empower students, Williams argues that it ultimately erodes students' autonomy and reduces learning to an instrumental focus on credit accumulation. At the same time, in giving students consumer status, lecturers are encouraged to avoid intellectually or emotionally challenging content so as not to upset student consumers, which could promote dissatisfaction. Williams draws these themes and arguments together to consider what it means to be a student and to explore alternative conceptions of higher education.
Bloomsbury Publishing; Read online