Enhancing the student experience
Students or customers? Students and customers? Seldom in higher education has the role of students – their relationship with the university, to their study and to society – been so sharply contested and misunderstood as it is today. The so-called ‘student experience’ indeed – a concept borrowed from the commercial sector – has been almost done to death over the last decade.
Even so, it is doubtful whether the meaning of the term has become any clearer though aspects are being incorporated into the new Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF), and universities face the government-driven prospect of having to issue ‘value for money’ contracts to all their fee-paying students.
This chapter seeks to clarify what the student experience is and how we can enhance it. In doing so, it explains the sources of misunderstanding between ‘students as learners’ and ‘students as customers’; examines the relationship between students and university services and the role of students in learning and teaching; and identifies the practical ways in which university leaders and managers can enhance their students’ experience and improve the outcomes achieved by their students, as well as their performance in the TEF assessment.