Harvard & St. John's University (UNITED STATES)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2011 Proceedings
Publication year: 2011
Pages: 6264-6265
ISBN: 978-84-615-3324-4
ISSN: 2340-1095
Conference name: 4th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 14-16 November, 2011
Location: Madrid, Spain
Given the growing calls for accountability in higher education over the last 2 or so decades, many administrators at academic institutions have begun to worship "the business model", thinking or believing that it will some how provide the answers to student success and even worse, student enrollment. For many of the "believers"/administrators, the only time that they were ever in the classroom was as a student, losing touch with what higher education is about...what it's purpose is.

The Business model, which promises "customer satisfaction" or "efficiency" above all else, has led to an imbalance in the relationship between students and has led to a culture of entitlement and instant gratification, ans has somewhat related ties to the fiscal crises. Business operate for a single fixed purpose, to generate profit and satisfy stockholders. In this highly competitive education market, customer (inappropriately labeled the student) satisfaction has become paramount. The more satisfied the student, the argument goes, the more he/she is willing to persist at the institution, the greater the graduation statistics, and the more enhanced the reputation of the institution.

Driven by the desire to satisfy external agencies regarding "accountability" many colleges for over 30 years have effectively altered the relationship between student and institution by defining students as "consumers" who are asked to evaluate instruction in much the same way as banks ask their depositors to rate their services. Driven by the student "revolutions" of the 1960's, colleges have effectively placed the responsibility for determining the quality of instruction and curriculum in the control of those - the students - who are least competent to judge. Obviously students should have some say in instruction evaluation, but the present practices run the risk of turning faculty members into supplicants for student approval and creates a dangerous imbalance in the power relationship between faculty and students, one which might have a deleterious impact on the very thing - teaching- which it is supposed to improve. Further, when colleges follow the business model in order to bolster enrollments or to compete for the "top" students, the results over time can also have serious consequences for the society as a whole. When rigor and purpose are replaced by luxury dormitories, state of the art health spas, haute cuisine cafeterias, and inflated grades what is created is a culture of entitlement and a demand for instant gratification.

Finally, given that higher education is about Education, the notion that reducing full-time tenured faculty makes good business sense is not only flawed, but is terribly destructive to all aspects of higher education. The students suffer, the institutions suffer, and society suffers. When the number of administrators grows yearly, as the number of full-time faculty is reduced, it is obvious that the business model is inappropriate. Administrators are earning more of the monies spent yearly then any other group, which seem like the poor and questionable practices taking place in business, and businesses haven't been able to do a very good job of running themselves with this approach, shouldn't higher education take note of that.
Higher Education, business model.