Students as customers: a paradigm shift in higher education

Javier Paricio Royo


Increasingly, higher education students are being considered as customers or clients. But this new way of seeing students implies a substantial change in the traditional notion of the student. The idea of student–customers goes beyond the demand for proper attention to
the student: it is part of an entirely new paradigm in higher education, which also includes other factors, such as the idea of higher education as a competitive market, public reputation as an institutional priority associated with a greater capacity for attracting and satisfying students, study programmes conceived by the students as an important personal and economic investment, curricula designed with a clear professional development orientation, quality systems centred on the value of customer satisfaction, and a new way of understanding educational relationships between students and faculty. This paradigm is the everyday way of thinking in some countries, while in others, such as Spain, it is slowly breaking through only now. This paper analyses this paradigm via an extensive bibliographical review of
the research on the different factors that characterise it and its impact on the quality of the learning processes and the social function of universities.

Paraules clau

higher education, students, quality, learning processes, student–faculty relationships, customer satisfaction.

Text complet:

137-150 (English)


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