The Student-as-Consumer Approach in Higher Education and its Effects on Academic Performance

Bunce, Louise; Baird, Amy and Jones, Sian. 2016. The Student-as-Consumer Approach in Higher Education and its Effects on Academic Performance. Studies in Higher Education, 42(11), pp. 1958-1978. ISSN 0307-5079 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

Students studying at universities in England have been defined as customers by the government since the introduction of student tuition fees (Dearing et al., 1997). 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 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, learner identity, grade goal and academic performance. The analysis revealed that consumer orientation mediated traditional relationships between learner identity and grade goal on academic performance, and found that a higher consumer orientation was associated with lower academic performance. Furthermore, higher responsibility for payment of tuition fees and studying a STEM subject were associated with a higher consumer orientation and subsequently lower academic performance. Implications for academic performance are discussed.

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student-as-consumer, learner identity, academic performance, grade goal, tuition fees

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14 January 2016Published Online

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08 Dec 2015 21:52

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16 Jan 2018 15:09

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Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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