Tag Archives: higher education

2012 What Gok Wan can teach us about HE

Will Reader

The increasing rationalisation of higher education and the forthcoming increase in tuition fees appears to have resulted in a millenarian crisis of identity within universities. What is our purpose and how does the concept of a university as a business square with traditional academic values and practices? And if a university is a business, what does it sell (Collini, 2012a; 2012b)? These are practical questions relating to the anticipated changes in student expectations and how universities should best meet them. For example, will students (or their parents) demand more contact time and personal tuition? Will academic values be slain at the altar of customer service? Such fears partly stem from confusion over what it is that we sell; academic values need not be sacrificed as a result of increasing consumerism if we remember that the core of our product is not an experience or knowledge but positive change. I further argue that current assessment systems result in students experiencing the “Red Queen” paradox – they always feel they are running to stand still – and can be oblivious to the positive changes in their skills, knowledge and attitudes that university life has produced. I conclude by suggesting ways we can resolve this. 


Collini, S. (2012a). What are Universities For? London: Penguin.

Collini, S. (2012b). The threat to our universities. The Guardian, 24th February, 2012. http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2012/feb/24/threat-to-our-univerisities (retrieved, 23/3/2012)

See link for presentation: D1 EX49 What Gok Wan can teach us about higher

D1 – (EX49, EX41, EX48) 15.30