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callum perry

undergraduate education
callum.perry@uea.ac.uk

curriculum conversations: marketisation of your higher education

I wouldn’t be surprised if marketisation of your higher education wasn’t at the top of your interests, but that’s why I’ve started this series called ‘Curriculum Conversations’. I want to fill you in with all the important information on the aspects of university which is affecting you every day. 

Back in 2010, the government removed the public funding for university which led to high student fees and loans based on incomes, thus creating an environment for marketisation to flourish. There is no longer a cap on the number of student’s universities can take on so now it is a free-for-all when it comes to recruitment and trying to increase their profits by taking on as many students as possible.  

It is concerning to me to see the marketisation of higher education through the rise in both conditional unconditional offers, lower grade boundaries, accommodation guaranteed and league tables. We are trying to study and succeed in a world that is desperate to increase our student populations when there is a decline in 18-year-olds entering the HE sectors via universities. 

So how does this affect your experience at university? How does this affect your value for money? Most importantly, how can we help challenge the HE sector on treating us like consumers? 

I completely agree with Dan Beynon, Head of Education at SMRS, in that “We need to demonstrate much more clearly that Universities (and their leaders) are listening and acting... This can be achieved through greater transparency relating to fees, funding and value; an even more proactive approach to the big issues (diversity, mental health, social mobility, relationships with business) and a collective and authentic approach to sharing all that is great in UK HE” 

This view presents a real opportunity for us a student's union in the UK. Through our platforms and fostering of your student voice, we can continue challenging the value for money for our education. 

You, the students’, hold more power than you realise in raising issues. The problems of rent rising, using league tables to increase their intake and offering incentives that they might not be able to sustainably fulfill in order to increase intake should be challenged by us.  

Therefore, I want to stress how big an impact you could make by getting involved with academic representation. By becoming a course rep or by engaging with the course reps who are elected about the quality of your course, you can help to ensure the pledges made to entice students onto HE courses are upheld for the benefit of those students.  

If you have any questions about marketisation, becoming a course representative or just want a chat to discuss this then please do email me on callum.perry@uea.ac.uk, pop into the office and ask for me, or arrange a meeting where we can have a coffee and chat. 

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