Our report, The Student Deal incorporates our latest thinking on current issues in higher education and reflects the changing dynamics of the higher education system. The Student Deal challenges the limitations of the current thinking about students-as-customers, and the related emphasis on student satisfaction and student journeys.
We believe these approaches encourage a limited, transactional view of the relationship between students and higher education providers and do not adequately address the lifetime benefits students should expect from their personal investment in higher education, nor the collaborative relationship between students and learning providers that best fosters those benefits.
The challenge for universities is to design and provide the context and resources through which students can develop into capable, confident T-shaped people, with a bredth and depth of knowledge. This requires rethinking the total student experience, moving beyond the design and delivery of subject-based higher education courses to a rich, multifaceted and joined-up portfolio of co-curricular and extra-curricular learning experiences.
Beyond course design and delivery
Learners at every level and mode of study are, in effect, entering a Student Deal with their chosen higher education provider. This is an implicit agreement in which both parties commit to working together towards a balance of primary outcomes built around four core principles:
- grasping a body of discipline-based knowledge
- acquiring expertise in applying and mastering that knowledge
- growth as individuals through personal, societal and professional development
- enhancing their career and life opportunities.
Tailoring the total experience
Universities need to tailor the student deals they offer to the diversity of learners and markets. This differentiation must extend to every aspect of the deal, from the design and delivery of learning materials, to the ways in which learners can engage with tutors and peers, to the co- and extra-curricular experiences provided as part of the provider’s offer.
This in turn challenges the ways in which higher education institutions work, in the jargon, their operating models – how they organise their people and activities, the capabilities they must demonstrate, the responsiveness of their governance and cultures to differentiated and fast-moving opportunities, and where and how they create and share in value for their investor/partners.
Developing genuinely student-centred higher education
We believe the concept of the Student Deal, and the multifaceted framework presented in our report, can be a powerful tool for better alignment of higher education experiences with the diverse needs of individuals, policy makers and employers.
You can also join the debate on our LinkedIn forum, Leading Change in Higher Education, and contribute towards developing a genuinely student-centred higher education system.