As students pay more for their higher education, as term-time employment becomes increasingly common, and as the boundary between part-time and full-time study blurs, it is clear that the student experience is changing. This has led some to speak about “students as customers”, and although loose and imprecise, such terminology is indicative of the growing concern with the experience students have while in HE. The House of Commons Select Committee has begun a review of related issues, and there is increasing focus – not least by students themselves – on what it is that they receive when in higher education, the quality of what they receive and the facilities that are available to them. Some universities have even begun to offer students guarantees – of access to facilities and of minimum amounts of contact with their teachers – while demanding of students a reciprocal commitment to their studies.
What is it that students are entitled to expect of their universities? What can universities reasonably expect of students? And what can society expect from students in return for the substantial investment that it makes in them?
This conference will address these and related questions, drawing on the results of a new survey by HEPI, updating the two previous surveys that showed unexplained differences in the effort required and levels of contact with academic staff – both between subjects and (within similar subjects) between different universities.
Chaired by Phil Willis MP, Chairman of the Commons Select Committee on Innovation, Universities, Science and Skills, the conference brings together some of those at the very heart of the debate about the student experience. Speakers include Lord Young, Minister for Students; Peter Williams, Chief Executive of the QAA; Paul Ramsden, Chief Executive of the Higher Education Academy; Sir David Watson, Professor of Higher Education Management, Institute of Education; Les Ebdon, VC of the University of Bedfordshire, and Chair of the UUK Student Experience Committee; Deian Hopkin, VC of LSBU; Rob Behrens, the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education; Wes Streeting, President of the NUS; Will Archer, Director of i-Graduate; and David Palfreyman, Director of the Oxford Centre for Higher Education Policy Studies.