The Impact of consumer culture in higher education

Authors: O'Sullivan, H.

Conference: 2015 Academy of Marketing Conference

Dates: 7-9 July 2015


The shift in funding source from government to student is highly likely to change university debates on learning and teaching. As students pay higher fees, it is probable that they will develop a stronger voice, exerting greater influence across the HE landscape than was previously possible.

This research’s focus was to understand the factors involved when considering whether the introduction of higher tuition fees has created a difference in expectations between pre-2012 lower fees and post-2012 higher fee- paying students.

Research was undertaken at one post-92 HEI on the south coast. Respondents comprised current students paying the higher tuition fee rate (level I) and current students pre-2012 higher tuition fee rate (level H). It utilised a scaled response and included positive and negative statements. The research focused on answers in three key areas: financial benefits, customer service and academic standards.

In the areas of financial benefits and customer service, higher fee-paying students had higher expectations than lower fee-paying students. However, in terms of academic standards, higher fees appear to have had little impact – students are as likely to believe universities should fail students and support high academic standards regardless of the level of fees they are paying.

Source: Manual