First, the student-as-customer model fits poorly. Certainly some educational experiences are better than others, and information about quality differences needs to be readily available. However, anyone who has listened to students and parents demand results not earned or special privileges at special prices knows the customer model has flaws. Of course that does not prevent some institutions from using customer satisfaction to determine the price of a dorm room. I remember the well-heeled student who told me that the university could gain revenue by “selling” preferred parking places to those willing to pay.
Second, discussions among faculty and administrators about multiple revenue streams, costs per student, program efficiency, budget accountability, and the like can be difficult. As an institution, academe has much more experience resisting change than embracing it.
Third, even as some people resist change, there is an increasing awareness that the future will be different. We will not go backward. Budgets present real constraints, public support will not return to previous levels, domestic and international competition to offer new educational options will continue, as will calls for increased accountability.
What we need is to learn the discipline of business without the short-term orientation.
Take a look!
Hat tip: To Prof. Ballal for the email pointer.