The student-as-consumer approach in higher education and its effects on academic performance
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Bunce, L., Baird, A. & Jones, S. (2016) The student-as-consumer approach in higher education and its effects on academic performance. Studies in Higher Education, 42 (11), pp. 1958-1978.
Students studying at universities in England have been defined as customers by the government since the introduction of student tuition fees. Although this approach has been rejected by educators, there is a lack of empirical evidence about the extent to which students express a consumer orientation and its effects on academic performance. These issues were examined in the current study by surveying 608 undergraduates at higher education institutions in England about their consumer attitudes and behaviours in relation to their higher education, learner identity, and academic performance. The analysis revealed that consumer orientation mediated traditional relationships between learner identity, grade goal and academic performance, and found that a higher consumer orientation was associated with lower academic performance. Furthermore, responsibility for paying tuition fees and studying a Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics subject were associated with a higher consumer orientation and subsequently lower academic performance. Implications for academic performance are discussed.