With the rise in tuition fees, many of us are asking ourselves exactly what young people's expectations are in regard to the student experience are, and whether the UK higher education (UKHE) sector is becoming - for better or for worse – more `consumerised'. To find the answers, University Partnership Programme (UPP) commissioned a study from YouthSight. Mia Lorenz, Associate Director at YouthSight, summarised the findings for the 1994 Group’s Policy Forum.
The findings indicated that getting a good return on investment is now a key priority for applicants and students, possibly driven by the confluence of higher fees and a pessimistic economic outlook. Expectations and concerns about the non-academic experience cluster around the ability of new starters to make friends and settle in, but also to have an affordable and `networked' social experience. We believe that students' need for affordability and their desire for social spaces that don't necessitate the making of a purchase may conflict with HE institutions' need to monetise aspects of their facilities. In other words, while there is likely to be an increase in consumerisation in attitudes in terms of return on investment, there is also likely to be a backlash against commercialisation of the campus experience.