The Galleon - Portsmouth's Student Newspaper

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Opinion

Should students be treated like paying customers?

Students pay to go to university. Should they be a paying customer, or still be treated like they are receiving a complimentary service? School is compulsory and as such it is necessary for the teachers to be figures of authority, but the question I want to ask is whether this should transfer into university studies? Is it just because within education the teacher/student relationship has been defined by a historical background of the teacher who spanks the naughty child and the inferiority of children?

Ok, so admittedly we get the privilege of calling lecturers on a first name basis, something to make us feel like “equals”, but is this enough? Or do things need to change, especially with the impending fee rises? On the other hand, is this just a stuck up student view, believing that anything they throw money at in this capitalist society should act with gratefulness and thanks toward them?

In the simplest of forms, the student (currently) pays £3290 for one year of attendance at university. They chose both the university and the course and make the decision to study for a degree. So they are a customer receiving a service. Admittedly, a university is a business but is an autocratic method successful? As a member of a gym, if you don’t attend they will encourage you with free personal trainers and specialties; can you imagine if a gym threatened to withdraw the services? The member could simply withdraw their payment and go somewhere else. Why is it that the university staff can threaten us and we continue to accept that? I have a friend who had to take two days off university to go into hospital.

She took the time to email her lecturer, her tutor and also the course administrator, something that few students do. She explained that she had to go into hospital and would be missing two seminars. She was greeted with this response, ‘Unless you can provide proof then we will be withdrawing your services. Have a good day.’ What? A consistent and dedicated student is threatened for having to go into hospital? She did in fact complain and was given an apology but I wonder why this autocratic response is found necessary by university departments? Some schools within the university are extremely tight on attendance, and then others, such as geography, know not of what attendance records are.

When questioned why they were so hot on attendance I was given the answer that if students stop attending lectures then they are more likely to drop out, which means less money for subsequent years for the university. At the end of the day we, as university students, currently pay the university nearly £11,000 for three years of teaching.

Most students will comment that the majority of their lecturers are fantastic, I can speak from experience when I say that the creative writing department in particular go out of their way to help you out when needed. However, as someone who has also experienced a double standard and also lecturers who simply couldn’t care less, it can
be frustrating. When faced with this, it does make you question what you’re paying for. I understand that the university have a business to run, but at the moment they seem to be lacking on customer service.

Students get out of university what they put in at the end of the day, and in most cases the tuition fees currently paid are well worth the money, but maybe we should start making the university aware of the situations in which we are being treated wrongly, after all, that’s the only way anything will change.

This content is one individual's opinion and does not represent the opinion of The Galleon. If you disagree with this article or have any further comment to make please email yourview@galleonnews.com.