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Consumerism in education
A comparison between Canada and the United Kingdom
Department of Management and Marketing, Kazakhstan Institute for Management, Economics and Research, Almaty, Kazakhstan, and
Consumerism in education
University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, UK
Purpose – With the emergence of the knowledge economy different countries are responding with changes within their tertiary education systems. Education is increasingly recognized as a cornerstone to the continued growth of a country but with the globalization of business is education becoming a commodity? Design/methodology/approach – This paper examines educational policies and their implementation within the UK and Canada. Findings – This paper ﬁnds that education in the UK has become a commercial product within the international arena, unlike Canada where tertiary education has remained a domestic pursuit. Originality/value – This paper engages in a controversy that questions whether the economic value to a nation of education is found only in the numbers of students or can be enlarged to include the results of the education for the students. Keywords Tertiary education, Comparative tests, Educational policy Paper type Viewpoint
Introduction With the increasing globalization of commerce and the international movement of people, students who are looking for post-secondary education are no longer restricted by national boundaries. Many international organizations are organized around a speciﬁc concept and work around the globe to achieve these goals. In so doing, the educational status of those who are involved as well as the world’s population in general is improved. This globalization is evidenced by the increasing number of organizations that work internationally on humanitarian causes, such as Amnesty International, International Humana People to People Movement, Greenpeace International, International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, People’s Global Action, among others. International organizations’ perspectives frequently differ from those of the institutions that administer the elected ofﬁcials’ agenda as well as the elected ofﬁcials. Often the ofﬁcials’ agenda is short-term due to the established timeframes of power. When this is translated into the perspective of consumers of education, it results in greedy consumerism and emphasis on short-term gain over longer term success (Tickell, 2002). This is evidenced by the United States’ student population’s high levels of detachment from the world of academia and accompanying low trust in academic institutions, as well as a focus on the career positions and pay levels that will result from the education instead of the focus being on the education itself (Spiegler, 1998).
International Journal of Educational Management Vol. 19 No. 2, 2005 pp. 153-177 q Emerald Group Publishing Limited 0951-354X DOI 10.1108/09513540510582444
The developed world recognizes the importance of post-secondary education. For example, in England the Prime Minister has expressed a desire for 50 percent of the population to have a university degree. A White Paper, published in January 2003, indicates that 43 percent of the British population between the ages of 18 and 30 is currently enrolled an institution of higher education (Department for Education and Skills, 2003). Universities in Canada recognize that growing student populations are creating a crisis in the post-secondary education system (Borel et al., 2003). The result of this crisis is increasingly larger numbers of potential students who are being turned away and increasing pressure and competition between universities to attract the best candidates because of the perception that the more high-proﬁle the alumni, the greater the likelihood of increased private funding. Universities in England are approaching their funding needs by both increasing the number of international students studying in England as well as exporting university programs to developing countries where satellite campuses are established (Malaysian Business, 2003). Education is the foundation of the success of today’s increasingly global marketplace. Complicating this is the increasing globalization felt in communication, commerce, technology, and politics, among others. To educate those who will both participate in and be affected by this globalization is an increasingly onerous task that must respond to and incorporate economic restructuring, demographic shifts, and increasing reliance on information technology as a signpost for the knowledge economy. Post-secondary institutions in the UK and Canada are addressing both the change and the incumbent needs differently, partially due to differences in the historical focus on education, partially due to the different political structures under which post-secondary institutions operate, partially due to the demand for university education by the populations, and partially due to the rising consumerism among students. This paper will address the differences in responses among these countries’ post-secondary education structures with a view to clarifying issues that may be important to students when contemplating where to pursue their advanced education. Background The importance of the education marketplace is recognized by the World Trade Organization (WTO), which administers the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), originating in 1947. In 1995 the WTO expanded GATT to include services including education under the Central Product Classiﬁcation system that categorizes education as primary, secondary, higher education, adult, and other (Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada, 2003c). Higher education in this system includes university, college, vocational, and technical education. However these agreements remain incomplete today due to the current 144 participatory members desire to retain control over these services. To September 2003, Canada has made no commitment and is seeking no commitment under these provisions concerning education, health, culture, or social services (Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, 2002). The UK, under the banner of the European Union (EU), has stated that it will not make any further commitment concerning education under the WTO agreements (European Union, 2003), a policy that is endorsed by national associations for higher education academics in both countries (Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada, 2003c). These associations in both the UK and Canada look to agreements outside the GATT trade agreements but are under the auspices of the WTO, which
This has resulted in a proliferation of universities in both the United Kingdom and Canada. increased competition in the global marketplace (Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada. In 1999.would allow for the recognition of different countries’ educational standards. 2003c). 2003). Full time enrolment at Canadian universities increased by 16 percent between 1988-1989 and 1998-1999 but has decreased from the 1998-1999 high of 885. 2003c). During the same time period in Canada.000 part-time university students (representing a total of 2.77 billion) to the Canadian economy (Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada.845 international post-secondary students. The 1999-2000 academic year ﬁgures included 59. the smallest having a student population of less than 300 and 25 having a student population of over 10. 2003). Canada had 195 community colleges and 75 recognized universities with an enrolment of 580. are nearly double to ten times the number of students accepted. Post-secondary education is seen as an indicator of people’s ability to compete in the job market. and communication.700 instructors (StatsCan. In Canada. It is estimated that 70 percent of those enrolled in undergraduate programs are in the 18-24 age group (Canadian Education Statistics Council.5 billion (£1. 2003). Universities are looked to as a means of “mobilizing even more effectively the imagination. In Canada this translates to increasing admission standards driven up to a minimum average across all faculties of 85 percent (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. thereby increasing their economic prosperity and the opportunities encountered in the burgeoning knowledge-based economy now emerging in the developed world. Education today is recognized by the WTO as a global commodity.600 students (Canadian Education Statistics Council. This is based on the attributed importance given to globalization. these beneﬁts are noted as extending beyond the economic realm by enhancing standards of living in a population resulting in increasing longevity as well as greater willingness to engage in critical thought and debates that contribute toward a more democratic society (Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada.3448 billion) (Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada.] to build economic strength and social harmony” (Department for Education and Skills. In 2003. In today’s global economy. education was estimated as a marketplace that generated $30 billion (£12. education is seen as the foundation upon which individual countries’ economies are based. This Consumerism in education 155 . 2003). who contribute an estimated $3. . and talents [. technology. These ﬁgures are not indicative of the number of applications that. 2003). This reluctance may be due in part to the potential income generated by higher education as a marketplace. college education has increased for both full time enrolment (28 percent) and part time enrolment (12 percent) with approximately one quarter of these students registered in university transfer programs (Canadian Education Statistics Council. skills. .400 full time and 246. 2003c). creativity. representing approximately 10 percent of the student population. 2003c). Canadian universities vary in size.000 (Canadian Education Statistics Council. This ten-year increase belies the trend of decreasing funding from 1993-1994 to 1997-1998 with the academic year 1998-1999 seeing the ﬁrst increase in that ﬁve-year period (Canadian Education Statistics Council.4 percent of the Canadian population) taught by 33. 2003).44 billion) to $4.3 billion (£1. and the need to prepare tomorrow’s workers for a life that demands global literacy. depending on the university and the individual faculty. 2003). 1999).
Hong Kong. 2003). 2002). medicine increasing 252 percent. Mr Tony Blair. 90. The student’s contribution depends on the tuition rate set by individual institutions. attaining 25 percent of the global market share of higher education students by 2005. with the provinces being responsible for education and the federal government being responsible for immigration. the British Prime Minister.4 percent) from the United Kingdom (representing 3.843. four in Northern Ireland. The Canada Student Loans assisted 48 percent of post-secondary students in 1990 and 44 percent in 1995 (Canadian Education Statistics Council. Overall. Of these. with universities in England looking to increase the number of international students to improve the ﬁnancial situation (Green.953 (£3.3 percent) international not including the EU. n. 301). p. The government’s contribution for higher education is approximately $14. The increase in the number of students is not restricted to “home” students. In the UK. and 152. 2003.d.601 (£4.320 (88. Until very recently. 2003).086. of 2. with dentistry increasing 310 percent. announced that one of his government’s goals was to be a leader in the provision of education for international students by admitting more international students into the UK higher education system. similar to Canada.086. On average.075 students.IJEM 19.135 (4. In a 1999 speech. This is further complicated by the allocation of governmental responsibilities. the demand for placement has more than been met and exceeded by Canadian students and the governmental funding structures for universities has not encouraged international students. 2002). 11 percent were from North America. tuition in Canada rose between 1990 and 2001 (in constant 2001 Canadian dollars) 98 percent for undergraduate students and 138 percent for graduate students.555 full time and 830. Singapore. 1999). and commerce increasing 115 percent (Canadian Education Statistics Council. The majority of students in the UK are undergraduates. and India) (Universities UK. law increasing 144 percent. 2003). This action would perhaps allow the tuition rates for these students to offset the governmental funding shortfalls.). 303).625 (7.2 156 ﬁgure is small because Canada has not concentrated on the international marketplace in the past. there were 2. According to a 1999 survey. who are noted as being primarily between the ages of 18 and 21 years (Higher Education Funding Council for England. 2003) with 134 in England. . up from 1.918.3 percent) from other EU countries. The UK government has identiﬁed the international student population as worth pursuing. 2003.362) in 1995. and 10 percent were from “other Asian” countries (not including Japan. students from each of China and Africa represented 14 percent. Taiwan. representing an 8. representing a 33 percent increase (Canadian Education Statistics Council. with the longer-term goal of 50 percent (Blair.d. 13 in Wales. In a study of domicile and gender in 2002.075 students there were 1. p.182 per student per year in the 1998-1999 academic year (Canadian Education Statistics Council. and 21 in Scotland.520 part time students for the 2001-2002 year. there are 172 universities in the United Kingdom (Canadian Education Statistics Council. the student enrolment increases in the UK have been 6 percent from 1996-1997 to 2000-2001 compared with a 54 percent growth in the number of higher education institutions from 1988-1989 to 1993-1994 (Higher Education Funding Council for England. The student also contributes by way of tuition.273) in 1990 to $10. Malaysia.1 percent of the UK population). n.7 percent increase.).255.970 for the 1998-1999 year (Higher Education Statistics Agency. including 1. but the increases are reﬂected in the average debt of these students upon graduation increasing from $7.
p.1:1.468) per student to £7. 2003a). Consumerism in education 157 . The repercussions of this are broadly discussed and include a lack of innovation and skilled labour. and the balance coming from other sources. 2003.291).454. 2004). Within this study. 2004). 30 percent of the poorest students will be guaranteed a £3.497.000 ($7.77) for taught postgraduate courses. 2002) that now supports approximately 60 percent of the cost of universities (Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada. The median fees across all UK higher education institutions for international students is £7. both of which impact negatively upon the progress of the country (Caldwell.074.).900 academic staff in UK Higher Education Institutions. £7. Canada. This difference in funding is also reﬂected in the degree to which each country looks to international students to bridge the gap and is reﬂected in the resources expended on recruiting international students.330 in Scotland.). the cost to the UK taxpayer will be offset by the programs for international students that result in an infusion of £8 billion ($19.000 ($7.d. n. and 2.071 ($7. 5. ultimately impoverishing the UK and further decreasing its status as a global supplier of quality education. This infusion comes from the costs of living as well as tuition fees. In the 2003-2004 academic year. In England. The Canadian government’s spending on university education has increased approximately 60 percent from 1991-1992 to 2001-2002 (StatsCan. Canada has the highest percentage of university and college education for the 25 to 64 year old population (41 percent) (Canadian Education Statistics Council. The value of international students and the global marketplace for education is well recognized with politicians and universities in England admitting their need to focus on funding forcing them to search overseas for paying students. p.291) bursary to pay tuition.770 in Wales. government funding of the education system in England as portrayed by funding per student has decreased by 36 percent (Clarke. representing £3. universities are funded by the Higher Education Funding Council for England. 2003. 2004).406 million ($15.2:1 whereas Canada’s is 4. According to the Department for Education and Skills (2003). However.d. on the other hand. the United Kingdom is seen to have 26 percent for the same population (Canadian Education Statistics Council. 14.In the 2000-2001 academic year. or £32.850 in England. 2003). The UK has a student to academic ratio of 6. 2004). This resulted in the best of the British students to go abroad for their education (Wolf.25) for postgraduate research courses (Universities UK.579 million). leaving the funding of undergraduate education still largely state-sponsored.632 ($18. n. being 96. and loans forgiven after 25 years.673) increase tuition to £3. From a survey of 30 OECD countries.475 ($18. the granting of funding from the HEFCE board will increase from £6. 2003a. as of 2006.141) per student into the UK economy. In the decade 1989-1997. there were a total of 119. with much of the undergraduate tuition being government-sponsored for United Kingdom resident citizens until 2004 when “top up fees” of £1.955 in Northern Ireland (Higher Education Statistics Agency.599 million ($18.480 million) in 2005-06 (Higher Education Funding Council for England. b).650 ($18. 385). 385).100 ($2. minimum income levels structured prior to payment.4 billion) per year.62) for undergraduate courses. the government department responsible for funding of universities. and £7.954 ($80. with 20 percent coming from students (CBC News Online. is looking to increased government funding (Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada. Student loans are not structured in England as they are in Canada. including research contracts.
.149) (in 2000) having a university education and 62 percent of those earning less than $20. campus setting.2 158 In England. . availability of housing. . This decrease is blamed on English university degrees becoming “costlier. . p. and economics could expect an increase in earnings of 25 percent when compared to not obtaining the degree. . . and arts showed a decrease in earnings (The Economist. variety of courses. career opportunities.IJEM 19.230) (in 2000) having high school education or less (Canadian Education Statistics Council. academic facilities. and in some instances. This study. . availability of speciﬁc academic program. universities are experiencing pressure to increase tuition rates as well as enrolment rates. math. are starting to fall. . visit to the university. . academic facilities. In a recent study. 2003). Students look for: . and . . . Earnings in Canada are associated with educational levels. reputation of university.000 (£41. Graduate earnings in England are no longer increasing. and . . the rising consumerism among students that has resulted in complex rating systems including the estimated value for the dollar spent on education was cited as prevalent in the choice of higher education institution in America (Spiegler. with 61 percent of those earning over $100. reports that students and their parents look for slightly different aspects. social studies increased earnings by 10 percent.000 (£8. availability of a speciﬁc academic program. . In a recent study. . . student morale. . . graduates in law. career opportunities. reputation of faculty. 2003). 2003. student morale. education and languages had no effect on earnings. reputation of university. variety of courses. university social life. Parents look for: . 46). availability of housing. There has been one study that forms the latest Canadian research into those factors that are ranked as important to students in Canadian universities. student/faculty ratio. worse and commonplace” (The Economist. academic cut-off (lowest acceptable marks). a dichotomy that is obvious when the expected salary gains that come from university education are examined. by Pierce (1995). 1998).
in that the availability of the speciﬁc program and the teaching reputation are of high importance. (4) Academic support facilities. and international business. A study done in the UK in 1998 by Universities UK (Universities UK. 1998) examined the elements that students considered when choosing their institution. and increasing the variety of courses offered in established programs. (4) Teaching reputation. academic cut-off (lowest acceptable marks). established education institutions are expanding enrolments. (5) Employment prospects. p. (3) Teaching reputation. with the CESC ﬁnding that business support of Research and Development (R&D) in universities has risen from 7 percent in 1991 to 9 percent in 1999 and the universities funding their own R&D rising from 14 to 23 percent (Canadian Education Statistics Council. Those who were 21 years and younger looked for. the entrepreneurial spirit comes to the fore by introducing new 159 . increasing the variety of programs. Some industry support exists within Canada. and increased partnering between universities and business (Ambler. For those over 25 years. It was found that it varied by age groupings. ﬂexibility. in order of descending importance: (1) Offered the right subject. resiliency. business support of R&D has decreased from 8 percent to 7 percent in the same time period. 2003). (2) Attitude to mature students. making the availability of opportunities the most signiﬁcant factor. 368). There is an increasing call for post-secondary education in Canada to have a larger “real world” focus with the inclusion of school-sponsored co-op programs for students. (6) Entry qualiﬁcations. encouraging intercultural competence. Thus in the UK. In the United Kingdom. the perception of important aspects is somewhat in tune with the perceptions of both the Canadian students and their parents.. 368). 2003. p. (3) Social life. Consumerism in education These needs are somewhat negated in Canada with limited admissions to universities. The Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (2003e) notes that time spent in learning environments in foreign countries enhances the employability of graduates by developing an international perspectives by exposing the students to a different language. (5) Distance from home. When the established institutions do not respond quickly. with the universities funding their own staying consistent at 4 percent (Canadian Education Statistics Council. 2003. the aspects in order of descending importance are: (1) Offered the right subject. co-op work terms for professors. With the increasing acknowledgement of the importance of education in today’s global knowledge economy. (2) Overall image. student support services and availability of career counselling as equal.
which will inevitably lead to increased prosperity as articulated by Prime Minister Tony Blair in a speech given before a joint session of United States Congress in which he extols the value of “ever-expanding consumerism. 2004). according to the priorities of the population.1:1 14. of Canada Total population (2003) Number of universities (2003) Number of full-time students (2003) Number of part-time students (2003) Number of instructors (2003) Number of international students (2003) Student/teacher ratio Government contribution per student ($) Student tuition (2004) ($) Percentage change of government contribution (ten-year period) Industry support of university R&D (percentage of total budget) University support of university R&D (percentage of total budget) 31.255..400 246. in the public domain. and the potential avenues of redress (Ho.755 6. Barksdale et al. lead to the world’s destruction (United Nations Development Program.845 4.182 4. p.200. 226). Despite the differences. 1996). Consumerism As deﬁned by the American Marketing Association (AMA). they will have favourable attitudes toward business activities and unfavourable attitudes about consumerism and government regulations (Bhujan et al. consumerism is deﬁned differently. A summary of changes in key statistics is given in Table I.2 institutions. “consumerism” is the actions taken to protect the public from infringements upon their rights as consumers (American Marketing Association. 2001).000 172 1. 2004). Merriam-Webster expands the AMA deﬁnition to include “the theory that an increasing consumption of goods is economically desirable.468 7. of prosperity for the sake of prosperity.629. which then acts as one factor in established education institutions being forced to enter the advertising and publicity arena to attract the best students. if left unchecked. Ger and Belk. Consumerism is seen as a country-speciﬁc phenomenon having different aspects according to the country.000 33. 1992.555 830.900 242.IJEM 19. also: a preoccupation with and an inclination toward the buying of consumer goods” (Merriam-Webster.025 60 9 23 United Kingdom 59. 160 Other authors have noted that while consumers have been found to have unfavourable attitudes about business activities. 1998) and the salvation of the developed world. Summary of differences .2:1 7. 1982. . However. if consumers are content with business practices.520 119.700 75 580.700 59. . Consumerism is seen as both the bane of the developed world which will. This difference may be explained by the attitude found within the literature that: .. they question whether either the consumer movement or government regulation is capable of controlling or changing these negative practices (Fornell. 2001. the recognition of consumers as a priority is increasing around the world.296 236 7 4 Table I.
as well as the increasing recognition of the world as one marketplace. Universities also provide opportunities for students from the developing world to be educated about the world of practice in the institution’s home country. and preservation of the environment is recognized by the United Nations Development Program (1998). Increasingly globalization and standardization of products and services into global brands and global standards are inﬂuencing the tastes and desires of the global marketplace. the negative patterns that perpetuate consumerism and the effects of too much are perceived as ultimately destructive (United Nations Development Program. traditions. commerce. providing the education that increases the opportunities for consumer education. and .d. these institutions are adhering to the United Nations Development Program 1998 report through compliance with its new agenda by: . The importance of education to the promotion of human rights. strengthen international understanding by educating students by international professors in an inquisitive environment. building on local initiatives and amplifying the “think global act local” synergies (United Nations Development Program. 1998). . To do this. but also in the developing world due to the increasingly global nature of travel. universities export programs to the developing world to educate those aspiring professionals who will develop their homelands in an international framework within their homeland.). . building stronger alliances between and among human rights movements by increasing the global population’s knowledge of such movements and their legitimacy. communication. including education (Emerald. This is recognized by academics as well as the government and consumer advocacy groups (Guest and Colston. providing the education that increases the perspectives of its students to be inclusive of the global environment. 2003). The ability of consumerism to nourish and promote human life is undeniable. Through this. 2002). increasing opportunities for corporations to increase sales not only by opening new territories but by increasing existing marketplaces’ consumption.freedom for the sake of freedom” (Auster. 1998). providing the opportunity for education either at home or internationally. customs. increasing the standard of living. n. This linkage of consumerism to destructiveness is felt not only within industrialized countries with the highest level of consumerism. . providing an environment in which new technologies and methods that are emerging in developing countries can be explored both in the developing country as well as in the university’s country of origin. and politics. This recognition. information. and environmental protection. but has expanded to the service areas. However. . Consumerism in education 161 . . as with so many other concepts. has prompted universities to respond to these changes by expanding their reach beyond the borders of their traditional students as deﬁned by ﬁnancial and/or social classes and their country of origin. Both options allow for a more global perspective of both the students and the educators enhancing the opportunities for both to understand the philosophies. and diversity of new commercial marketplaces. Consumerism has long been recognized as not limited to tangible consumer goods.
a concept that must be redeﬁned when applied to education.IJEM 19. Through these international programs. One of the consequences of satellite educational institutions is the alliances that may be built among the instructors and advocacy groups. and fewer address the international aspect of this issue despite the linkages between education and consumerism which were ﬁrst noted in the late 1970s (Doyle. all being additional concerns of consumerism in education. and the United States (Zaragoza. This consequence will beneﬁt the students as well as assist organizations such as the United Nations to disseminate much of this knowledge. The educators themselves are international when they teach in satellite programs. The effects of education are not speciﬁc in their targeting. These changes are cyclical in that the educational institution promotes the acquisition of knowledge. oriented toward equity and toward social. racial and religious integration” (O’Brien. These changes may not be sufﬁcient. giving those students the advantage of the knowledge both of their experience and the educators. which then change the perceptions of required knowledge. enhancing the educator’s knowledge base. This economy is built on both access to information and the development of new information and knowledge.2 162 Through developing programs that respond to these. Birnbaum (1988) cites the American education system as poorly managed but unwilling to break out of its politico-economic background to re-examine itself. 250). These form a foundation for education. p. the educators are made more aware of the opportunities for consumer education. which changes consumer attitudes. 2001. 2002). The consumers of education are not solely the student who is the recipient of the education. When these issues are addressed. Japan. This emphasis on the cost of education is noted in the public sector as diverting attention from the issue of providing quality education “that is inclusive. Few consumer advocacy groups address the issue of post-secondary education. it is primarily the cost of the education that is of concern. 1998). Others have noted the reticence of academic institutions to change. the educational institutions engage in consumerism that contributes to the changes in the consumer’s attitudes. In teaching in both of these environments. tolerant of diverse views. The advantage of this can be found both in the rapid dissemination of technology within business as a requirement for competition within the global economy. the United Kingdom (Department of Trade and Industry. Many of the developed countries. the EU. thus presenting a challenge that to date has been denied (Davies. 1998). information. 2003) have recognized the evolution of the economy to be based on knowledge. which may inhibit the knowledge base that is imparted within the instructional materials. including human rights and environmental issues. the technology of both countries can be optimized. that will enrich the world’s knowledge of human conditions in international settings. which changes consumer attitudes. Rather. This advantage to the educator may not be as pronounced if the educator does not leave their home country. and environmental protection as they differ and are the same within the differing environments. as well as the adaptation and exploration of time-honored traditions in the developing world that are now being scientiﬁcally proven to be useful and successful in the developed world. This two-way transfer of knowledge is beneﬁcial to both those countries that export education as well as those who hire the students from these institutions. education . such as human rights. including Canada (StatsCan 2004). making education a principal building block for global advancement for and by the consumer.
they question whether the student knows or understands what the requirements of the career choice they make are. does have negative implications for educational institutions. Consumerism in education 163 . because education “is a ‘knowledge industry’ with a mission to educate the ‘minds’ and train the ‘hands’ under conditions that may be sometimes less than comfortable or acceptable to the students” (Michael. although recognizing that the student is often one of the primary determinants of which institution is chosen. Instead. 1997). and commercial enterprises. A recent decision by Oxford colleges in the UK to take out insurance in the uncertain event of students suing for failure to attain necessary grades for future employment or education (Simon. making the student an important participant among the ultimate consumers of the educational experience. job placement. These far-reaching implications of education are recognized by agencies such as the United Nations in the quest for development of the global village. (1997) look at the commercial world interpretation of consumerism as supplying the consumer with what they desire. 1991) is an indication of some of the negative aspects of this changing environment. thus blurring the identity of the consumer of education due to the nature and effects of education.given to one person is spread throughout the population by the thoughts and actions of that one person. Cheney et al. Thus. however. the person who ultimately makes the choice as to the intent and subject matter of the education is the student and perhaps their funders.. consumers are recognized as those who utilize a good or service. Michael (1997) deﬁnes professorialism as similar to Brubacher’s (1990) epistemological consideration. and given their general immaturity. and what to offer to students for their consideration. which is the decision of professors to monitor themselves in when. They argue that the metaphor of student-as-consumer will damage higher education because: . The person who ultimately engages in the educational experience and has the opportunity to determine the extent of the beneﬁt of this experience is the student. universities are not able to solely appeal to the student. This rising consumerism. who might include family. With this deﬁnition. access to graduate schools. 1994). such that they can determine the course content. the school’s reputation. and the school’s social reputation (Spiegler. how. where education has become a marketplace commodity instead of remaining true to the understanding of professorialism. 1998). school reputation. Other authors debate whether or not students are capable of being treated as consumers given their limited knowledge of the workings of the world into which they hope a university education will take them. Gerstner et al. However. political agencies. academic institutions. Students enter their post-secondary education with expectations of positive outcomes that will result in good jobs. Studies have looked at the reasons behind the student’s choices as including ﬁnancial. among others. the student-as-consumer metaphor actually distances students from the very educational process which is supposed to engage them by instituting the singular focus of paid employment instead of the exploration and acquisition of knowledge. (1994) write that the treatment of students as consumers allows academics to negate their “ivory tower elitist” status by instituting “real world” practices in higher education institutions (Gerstner et al.
Heifetz (1999) recognizes this potential in his understanding of two types of leadership: . . died.2 . as Kuhn (1977. 2001). assignments. Thus. create new ideas.. . or become incapacitated. genetic drift occurs making the organism vulnerable to competition. 1962) noted. where needs are met and evolution is not necessary for survival. exams. Thus. The Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (2003d) endorses this. The discussion adopts the concept of atrophy and stasis. resulting in the emergence of new paradigms only when the old guard has retired. market-driven. 2003d. Cheney et al. stating “higher education and research cooperation at an international level turns the forces of globalization to societies’ advantage” (Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada. and research to meet the underlying premise of humankind. Further. and much can be lost in the translation of contemporary business-management fads to the experiences of higher education because the fads present “cookbook” style thinking and do not allow for learning how to think (Cheney et al. academics who have founded their career on one line of thinking do not readily admit to errors. and initiate the new practices that move a country toward increasing prosperity (Wheatley. the “measurement mania” accompanying the rise of the student-as-consumer metaphor is reductionistic in its conception of the educational process. 8). (1997) advocate the adoption of a co-creator philosophy between universities and students that engages students not only in academic philosophies and practices held by universities. Instead. For universities.IJEM 19. but by taking the ideas of both society and universities to challenge and change the world through investment in life-long learning and the human community. the environment is stable and their need to be attuned to the evolution of the environment has been minimized by the security that was put in place to ensure their continuation. Within biology. customer-oriented response mechanisms often represent in practice a type of “pseudodemocracy” that gives power without regard to requirements or abilities. 1997). Practical implications Education has long been recognized as the means by which to achieve change. including universities. the provision of momentary customer satisfaction should not be confused with providing a high-quality educational experience or with ongoing educational improvement. universities continue to train people for a workplace that may not be reﬂective of the reality of the environment. in organisms that are in stable environments. there must be a new deﬁnition of the concept of consumerism within education that both endorses the rights of students to receive quality education that will adequately and appropriately prepare them for the workplace and endorses the rights of educators to maintain the academic integrity and freedom to structure their classes. 164 . Traditionally universities incorporated intellectual training before a person entered the workplace. p. This tradition has caused some dissent concerning the ability of universities to relate to the working world.
companies are not ﬁnding the skills and knowledge in potential employees that are needed and are therefore structuring their own educational programs and calling them corporate universities (Garman. attitude. partially due to governmental funding for universities dependent upon enrolment statistics within individual programs and as a whole. This has resulted in increased numbers of students from non-traditional cohorts enrolling in education. including one that is cited as exemplary. this may only be a temporary restraint. and Australia are not only exporting their programs but are competing actively among the target population for international students to enter their universities. Both the increasing competition for funding and the recognition of limited resources has resulted in the export of university programs to other countries into the global marketplace (Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada. and formulated. 1962). universities also become incubators for spin-out companies in which the theory that is taught is changed and tested before the knowledge is copyrighted (Sykes. (2) Adaptive leadership that is based on the principles of living systems. The Canadian culture. a fact that enhances the role of universities. Universities also serve as a means through which national culture is questioned. Of the two. researched. 2003). 2003c).(1) Technical/operational leadership that is based on authority. 2003). In particular. the Defense Acquisition University structured by the US Department of Defense (Schettler. which ampliﬁes the need for attention to be paid to the recruiting process that is a response to the rising consumerism in global education. In educating and training this workforce. Companies are beginning to recognize that cutting the work force and buying technology does not automatically generate productivity and proﬁts (Gordon. However it is recognized that there are limits to a continuation of this phenomena and universities have started to examine other markets. This international trade in education is recognized as important to countries by preparing students for employment in a global marketplace by exposing the international students to the culture. In the recent past. This requires universities to attract world-class students. the UK. 2003). and opportunities in the country of education (Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada.and product-based to knowledge-based. Universities are experiencing increasing competition for students from other universities. practices. including discovering new talents and employee groups that are capable of innovative thinking that leads to redesign and restructuring of process (Gearon. which values cosmopolitanism. 2003). a factor that may not appeal to upcoming students who have been raised in an era of consumerism. Consumerism in education 165 . 2003d) as well as exposing the educational institution and others in the community to the international student’s culture. attitude. the workplace has changed from labour. universities apply technical/operational leadership both in their administration as well as in their classrooms (Kuhn 1977. These corporate universities are cited as having numerous beneﬁts to corporations. 1997). and practices. but as observed in the United Kingdom when standards were adjusted to provide for colleges to apply for university status. At this point. these incubators require optimal ideas and personnel. This adds to the competitiveness. which decreases the naturally occurring decline in the population of the traditional cohort (Michael. 2003). universities in the United States. To enhance funding. Unfortunately. these universities do not offer degrees that have the equivalencies of traditional universities.
Of the academic staff who listed their qualiﬁcations. In addition to this. There were 525 (21 percent) who did not disclose information about the origin of their terminal degree (Freeman and Knight.8 percent) who did not have a PhD and 1. the largest number was obtained in the United States (125.6 percent) who listed their terminal degree as originating in an English university. web sites for 79 u niversities in England were searched to determine the country in which the educator’s terminal degree was obtained. and respect for diversity and tolerance. There were 1. that the country of origin may not be the same as the country where the terminal PhD degree is obtained. These faculties ranged from no staff information on the web in nine universities. There are 195 universities listed within the United Kingdom.490 commerce academics. there are established exchange programs between visiting research chairs in the United States and Canada which further enhance structuring an international environment for students in both countries. 2004 of business schools within English Universities.9 percent). to ﬁve faculty members of Bristol University to 200 faculty members at London South Bank University. political leaders throughout all three Americas recognized the importance of international education. Of PhD or equivalent degrees obtained outside of the United Kingdom and Ireland (212 or 4. there were 642 (or 25. 2004) attesting to the importance Canadian universities place upon the international perspective. and only 15 (or 0. this is not recognized by the federal government funding sources funding less than $1 (£0.911 (or 43. however. 2003d). there were 858 (or 19.6 percent). with the next closest being from France (64 or 2.2 percent) did not disclose information about the origin of their terminal degree. Using similar criteria for determining university status as was used with Canadian universities.2 percent) from an Irish university. or 2.IJEM 19. the largest number was obtained in England (101 or 4 percent). 1999).03 percent) from Canada. Through the 2001 Summit of the Americas Action Plan.4 percent).6 percent) from a Scottish university.2 166 internationalism.6 percent) from a Welsh university.365 full-time lecturers and professors noted on web sites as of March 30. and 8 (or 0. The Conference Board of Canada recognizes the importance of both Canadian students studying abroad and international students studying in Canada as key indicators of a country’s economic wellbeing (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.41) per capita on international education of Canadian students – possibly contributing to the paucity of less than 1 percent of Canadian students participating in international exchange programs (Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada. The majority of those holding terminal degrees from France taught in Quebec Universities. In total there are 4. 2003d). A recent study concerning the country of origin of the terminal degrees of 50 of Canada’s universities found a total of 2. Of PhD or equivalent degrees obtained outside of North America (235.7 percent) who listed their terminal degree as originating in a Canadian university.8 percent). It must be noted.3 percent) who listed their terminal degree as originating in the United States.320 (or 30. 28 (or 0. is increasingly becoming unique within North America (Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada. 27 (or 0. and 657 (or 26. However. or 9. when compared to the education standards and the international perspective reﬂected by the terminal PhD degree. However. These faculties ranged from four members for Brandon University to 232 members for HEC Montreal. England has an overall lower percentage of PhD educators and has a lower . Of the academic staff who listed their qualiﬁcations.
improving and ensuring the reliability and validity of the aforementioned core information. for example developing a “check list” that forces the student to examine elements such as the choice of their subject (e. the availability of student employment. including approaches that turn the classroom into a workshop to encourage the student to become an active learner. making other variables important in the determination of which university to attend. and obstacles encountered. improving decision making tools. This study cites a number of shortfalls within the UK system that must be corrected for potential students to achieve “informed consumer” status. A study completed in the UK recognizes the need for students and potential students to become “informed consumers”. course structure (e. balance between structured tuition. By deﬁnition. providing a more comprehensive guide to career paths. living costs. 1996) with the quality of higher education being complex and long-term (Baldwin and James. the reputation of the country in which the educational institution is located is similarly important to consumers (Srikatanyoo and Gnoth. However. work experience. Consumerism in education 167 . entry requirements. Universities are. These include: . opportunities. . Similarly. it is increasingly becoming incumbent on the potential student to choose their post-secondary educational institution carefully. One of these variables is the name of the institution. 2002). parental contributions. subsequent career aspirations and expectations.). a role not previously expected or accepted. improving access to ﬁnancial information concerning tuition.g. and help with budgeting). Together. 2003). etc. . sources of income (including loans.g. both requisites for an informed consumer. With the increasing numbers of universities from which to choose. dependent upon the student’s demand for education. meaning the reputation of the institution (Treadwell.number of educators who received their terminal PhD from outside their boundaries than does Canada. However. relevance to life after graduation). the educational market is not an equal market because the student is at a distinct disadvantage in lacking the knowledge of the prevailing market conditions (Michael. and the increasing sense of consumerism that is discussed in the academic literature. Baldwin and James (2000) conducted a study of the limitations on the higher education applicant’s knowledge and understanding of the higher education system. universities promote their consumers’ interest by offering the chance to take advantage of opportunities that are not available without degrees. including access to testimonials from individuals who have graduated from particular institutions and the career possibilities. type of university/college and its environment. to varying degrees. . This approach to education is not without its limitations. 2000). and potential income opportunities. 1997). including the paper mills that have emerged. self study. the evaluation of post-secondary education is very difﬁcult as it is intangible (Harvey and Busher. book fees. these factors can be seen as intrinsic to the top ten factors previously listed herein for both students and their parents. Andrews (2003) notes the need for academic personnel to adopt new teaching methods.
learning in organizations is synergistic. including the two that are predominantly used in educational settings (i. it is individuals who are the essence of a company and who undertake the organizational learning that occurs both because of them and through them. and partially because universities are structured to survive regardless of economic performance making them less than responsive to the marketplace. it is these individuals and their ability to learn that promotes them as valuable consumers.2 . universities must learn to learn and change in order to survive. 1996. in that the lessons learned go beyond the capabilities of each individual. thereby adopting those characteristics of a “learning organization” that are appropriate. 1998). spiritual intelligence.e. there is little agreement on the term’s meaning or the facets that are necessary for it to occur within organizations (Crossan et al. being employees. but these intelligences form a comprehensive outline for how learning can be facilitated. 1977). and existential intelligence). Simon (1991) recognizes that organizations are capable of learning only through their members. Often. and the three most newly described (i. 1999).IJEM 19. The concept of learning is dynamic. In consumerism. both fundamentals of competitive advantage (Doz. and stakeholders. Organizational learning was ﬁrst identiﬁed by Cangelosi and Dill (1965). logical/mathematical and linguistic). interpersonal and intrapersonal). musical. naturalist intelligence. . Although Gardner (1999) proposes that these intelligences are individual. . and utilizing new technologies to bridge the gap between the users and the providers of information (Universities UK. Dodgson (1993) ﬁnds that learning within an organization uniﬁes the individual... It is recognized that these intelligences are used by different people at different times with different degrees of success. Despite this and the term’s popularity. learning may in fact close the organization to the external environment.e. This brings to the fore learning theory as proposed by Gardner (1999). thus restricting the organization’s ability to contemplate new ideas and concepts (Kuhn 1962. as Tsang (1999) notes. improving career advice from people who are engaged in the ﬁeld. those that are most notable in the arts (i. group. and corporate levels of analysis.e. 168 . 1991). improving the quality and accuracy of information about different institutions. Epple et al. as well as organizational renewal. bodily kinesthetic. Traditional universities are often bound in the framework upon which their reputation was built. The individual members through which the learning happens are now recognized as including many of those who are important to organizations. with both the process and the results continually changing the learner. With the increased awareness of the costs of education. that framework restricts its adoption of the innovation that corporate universities can more easily incorporate. which cites humans as having eight or nine basic intelligences. those that are inward directing (i. partially because they do not have the history and historical structures of universities. Organizational learning is fundamental to the development of organizational design. This listing of recommendations may in fact represent an opportunity for Canadian universities to modify their recruitment information without the cost of a study. consumers. and spatial).e. But as implemented within many organizations. especially those non-tradition individuals who are traditional ﬁelds or those who are contemplating entering non-traditional ﬁelds. However.
one that forces us to evolve and grow in ways not previously contemplated. However. 2003). Cambridge. 2003). These university names are known. branding of universities is occurring within the UK environment. Princeton. Numerous authors have stated that the quality of education at the Ivy League universities in the United States is equivalent to or has lesser economic value than degrees at other American institutions. 2001). Other educational institutions that do not have the historical prestige of these brands are now working at branding. a trend that may have a negative impact upon traditional universities unless there is a willingness by these traditional institutions to change. (2002) that if this branding is successful. the need for branding in an oversupplied market becomes paramount (Twitchell. It is postulated by Belanger et al. and progress in the marketplace (Briggs. including increased . For example. Harvard.5 million. and McGill. recognized. whereas in Canada where there are 75 higher education institutions for a population in 2003 of 31. although with fewer studies being described in the literature (Corwin. Higher education institutions in the UK represent 2. Consumerism in education 169 Where to from here? We live in an increasingly complex world. Branding of Canadian business schools has and is continuing to occur. 2003).It is because of the use of different intelligences that brands are perceived as unique to each individual. To respond to this many corporations have established their own “universities”. and admired around the world because of the branding that has been built over decades..6 million. speciﬁcally in the UK where there are 195 higher education institutions for a population in 2003 of 59. Butler (2002) writes that this branding will assist UK universities in setting out their particular strengths and proclivities such that all students can be serviced within the UK environment. Another article has noted the reluctance of departments and faculty within British universities to afﬁrm the government proposals that encourage them to begin to brand the university (PR Week. evolution. 2002). 2004) a factor that complicates universities’ attempts to appeal to international students due to cross-cultural implications and associated meanings (Gray et al. 2000). These universities are successful on many fronts. The branding of universities is immediately obvious with the mention of names such as Oxford. especially when the product is promoted across international boundaries. more than two thirds of marketers felt their company lacked the expertise to successfully translate brand messages between nations (Precision Marketing. it will enhance the student retention of these institutions. Thus. few individuals know that Oxford grants its baccalaureate recipients with a Master’s degree following a set period of working in their ﬁeld of training without attendance at a university. while recognizing that many UK universities have employed outside PR or consulting agencies to research and initiate the branding process for the university (Design Week.6 times the number found in Canada. All that is required is compliance with application procedures for the advanced degree. In an article in Precision Marketing. This branding is becoming essential because the product of education is interchangeable and the market. 2003). while some of their practices remain obscure. with a resulting debate as to the success or the thoroughness of precursor research (Clegg. and for some more than a century. Other authors have noted the difﬁculties of global branding including the rapidity of change.
to recognize that e-learning presents challenges that are not easily overcome. It is necessary. Sprint understands the importance of technology and education. and readily available. Equally important is the necessity for universities to fulﬁll their original mandate – that of exploration of the universe and all within in it utilizing academic freedom to explore and discuss previously untapped or unacknowledged areas. . or personal commitments. Sprint also ensures that the education offered is in alignment with its core business strategies and is updated and revised with the evolution of its business. . which is seen as one of the leading corporate universities in the United States (Schettler. Another aspect of traditional universities that is incorporated by Sprint is the practices of these universities to perform as benchmarks for evaluation. the DAU actively searches for collaborators while giving both students and supervisors as much control of their learning process as possible. Flexibility and an openness to change are seen as a hallmark of Defense Acquisition University. despite the initial costs. That is.IJEM 19. These tools include observing and learning from institutions that are successful. DAU works to remain as current as possible. This updating may only become available through alliances with traditional universities. story telling. however. a task that Sprint enters into to ensure the quality of the education imparted within the walls of their university. encouraging utilization of many different methods of teaching including role-playing. and therefore does not cut these budgets. in teaching and in structuring the university. trying to ensure that information is accurate. The survival of the university is seen as resulting from their ability to measure the results as a demonstration of value which goes beyond the student year-end evaluations that are prevalent in universities today. logical argument and jokes. 2003). being “strong communication skills. This requires the maintenance of the concept of fundamentals that have long been established. 2003). Johnson (2003) discusses the factors that have enhanced the success of the university structured by the Sprint organization. among others. and others. timely. but instead prunes the content of courses so that they are constantly updated to current practices. thus engaging students who are unable to travel due to family. This means that the technology that is utilized is the technology that will be encountered in the workplace. This willingness to adapt to the needs of students is encapsulated by encouraging employees to learn in their own way. other businesses.2 170 employee satisfaction and retention (Murray. encouraging students to do the same and to practise this using role-playing and coaching. be innovative and creative. Gardner (2000) writes of tools that are necessary for successful negotiation that are easily adapted to the educational environment. Some of the important concepts that have proved successful and are described in the literature include: . use of an interactive style. . and asking thought-provoking questions” . Despite being sponsored by the armed forces of the United States. allowing each individual to challenge directly those aspects that do not work while always collecting evidence that there are different ways to approach the topic. work. Sprint offers a traditional learning environment in a bricks-and-mortar university as well as a virtual university offering e-learning.
71) together with proﬁciency in the use of technology that will both enhance the teaching as well as the research capabilities of the educator. 2003. It is necessary to consider whether the student can be given the responsibilities of being a consumer of education. Any entity in the world around us owes its existence not only to laws of physics but to an inconceivably long sequence of indeterministic probabilistic events (Gell-Mann. The role of education is crucial in today’s quickly evolving environment.. which in turn defeats the purpose of global expansion. a backlash to this decreased quality by industry establishing its own universities and educational programs that are beginning to attract students who would otherwise attend traditional universities. and the public’s perception of universities as having lesser standards and thus increasing the difﬁculty for graduating students to obtain jobs and devaluing the degrees. This is already noted as having negative consequences. In the attainment of the original mandate.. The literature also discusses the effects of the creeping consumerism that is being expressed by many of the stakeholders of higher education institutions. which states that the survival of any system depends upon the system’s capacity to cultivate variety in its internal structure. decreased quality of graduates. The UK Prime Minister Tony Blair has not taken into consideration the . universities are responsible to many. This evolution within commerce is increasingly being related to chaos theory and complexity theory as applied to organizations (Pascale et al. This reality brings forward the need for universities to remember the Law of Requisite Variety from cybernetics. including the students who are educated in this environment as well as the population where these students live. Universities need to remember that the potential for social engineering that originates in systems thinking ultimately stagnates the university and negates the originating mandate under which they operate. (Smart et al. Universities and funding sources must be able to meet and collaborate on the issues that are most relevant to the world as it operates. and if so. 17). This means there are probabilities for alternative histories. Promises of increased standards of living and wage opportunities through education must be weighed against the implications. such as universities that respond to their student base by guaranteeing degrees regardless of effort expended. In universities this means the ability of its staff to hire those who offer a new perspective rather than comply with established research patterns and norms.. Within this role. Universities are educating those who will create the future of the world as well as informing the world today. Consumerism in education 171 Conclusions The universe is governed by quantum mechanical laws. 2000) and should be applied to universities. under what conditions. 1994. is the recognition that the application of this mandate may need to be re-examined in light of the evolution of the world of commerce. p. From the literature we are aware of the attributes that students and their parents look for when considering universities together with the decreasing resources that hinder students in their educational pursuit. p.
There is a ﬁne line that universities must establish and defend that will allow the academics within universities to express intellectual integrity and quality in both their teaching and their research. Vol. “Educated guessing”. marketingpower. UK PhD recipients are not viewed favourably when applying for academic jobs in Canada. This emphasis on the high value of the management of an institution’s reputation is mandatory in today’s world of instantaneous communication (Schmitt. 2004). 4. all ﬁnancial amounts are given in Canadian dollars and British pounds. “Consumers”. 29 No. 2000). Unless indicated otherwise. On the other hand.php (accessed February 14). Andrews. If universities are not allowed the professorial component that encourages growth both in academia as well as the world of commerce. 1998). 2003). but also as participants and recipients within the society in which the university is structured. the UK has instituted two-year degrees that for many are not distinguishable and therefore negate the standard of education in the UK. American Marketing Association (2004). In a study recently completed by Freeman and Knight (2004). It also emphasises the impact of extraneous variables that impact upon a brand. pp. 15. Whereas most universities in North America have adopted a four-year baccalaureate as a standard. D.2 172 impact that a two year “foundation” degree will have on the reputation of the higher education institutions of that country. if universities are held accountable to the strict mandates of the term “consumerism” when applied to their students. When this is compared to “Canada’s reputation for high quality innovative education courses. p. Vol. Business Communication Quarterly. References Ambler. (2003). “Consumerism”. Note 1. Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (2002). others will. This failure is already noted internationally. its stunning scenery and the friendliness of its people make it a ﬁrm favourite with overseas students” (Evans. can be eroded if the brand is not carefully monitored (Lamming. “Trends in higher education backgrounder”. 20. S. he has instituted a two-year degree that will carry the same name as the more comprehensive four-year degree. If universities do not actively respond to their consumer base. the UK has some intensive work to be completed at several levels. the quality of education offered will be negatively impacted. . Computing Canada. (2003). The negativity of going to England for education is compounded by government-sponsored studies that reveal the racial and ethnic discriminatory practices by the white British population (Modood and Acland.html (accessed January 20. available at: www. This expression must include students as both participants and recipients not only while engaged in classes. However. such as the population’s attitudes and behaviors. society will lose one of the greatest resources it has available to it. available at: www.IJEM 19.com/live/mg-dictionary-view771. 6-7. 2001). The royal family is ensuring the future king’s education and Tony Blair is ensuring his son’s education by enrolling their sons in four-year degrees.aucc. 65 No. and universities will suffer losses in both reputation and the ability to respond to the world as it continues to evolve. such as a British education.ca/publications/media/2002/trendsback_e. This indicates that the traditional impact of a good product.
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