Friday, 2 November 2012

Full-time employed students as university consumers – consequences and triggers of marketisation of higher education

an article by Eve Mägi and Laura Kirss (PRAXIS Center for Policy Studies, Tartu, Estonia) and Krista Jaakson, Anne Aidla and Anne Reino (Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, The University of Tartu, Estonia) published in European Journal of Higher Education Volume 2 Issue 2-3 (June-September 2012)


This article draws on a qualitative study of student employment patterns among students who both study and work full-time.

In the study, 17 employed bachelor students at state-commissioned study places in three Estonian universities, 12 lecturers from the same universities, and 13 employers supervising those full-time students, were interviewed.

While recognising that the role of marketisation in higher education can be explored from a number of vantage points, the aim of this article is to demonstrate how marketisation has caused the change in students’ expectations towards universities and encouraged them for full-time employment in Estonia.

As the latter is a widely accepted phenomenon and adjustments on the ‘supply’-side are made, the implications of full-time employment on education are discussed.

The results reveal three areas in which university education is not corresponding to students’ expectations: content of study provided at the university, the study process, and university requirements.

In some respects students’ point of view was supported by the lecturers’ and employers’ perspectives.

The authors argue that the consumer model and customer orientation in universities has decreased rather than enhanced the quality of education. However, the development in quality can only occur with policy measures and a shared responsibility of participants as universities in the current situation appear to have insufficient power to improve the system independently.

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