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Prof. Skills for Business and Finance Essay

Student fees are the natural and logical conclusion to ‘McDonaldisation’ of Higher Education. Critically examine in terms of the traditional notion of a liberal education and what constitutes a university (see John Newman).

In introduction, this essay will define McDonaldisation of Higher Education and will explain its four components which are efficiency, calculability, predictability and control; thus applying each of these to higher education. The essay will continue to explain about bureaucracy and the way governments use bureaucratic control upon the higher education sector; this will lead to an explanation of education being seen as a commodity and the way students are being treated as consumers. The essay will talk about liberal education and the way a university is constituted; also, John Newman will be involved to discuss his idea of liberal education. Eventually, the essay will have a both-sided argument about student fees being the natural and logical conclusion to McDonaldisation of Higher Education, and finally, it will conclude whether the writer will agree or disagree with the statement.

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“McDonaldisation of Higher Education is a recent expression of cultural anxiety that draws attention to the dumbing-down affect, that can be generated by overregulated or systematised education” (Hayes and Wynyard, 2002:187).

McDonaldisation of Higher Education consists of four factors which are efficiency, calculability, predictability and control (Hayes and Wynyard, 2002:11). One way it has became efficient is by introducing multiple choice examinations (US) or by removing examinations (UK) and replacing them by forms of continuous assessments; thus leading to grade inflation and more students passing, in order to get a good degree (Hayes and Wynyard, 2002:11). Ritzer (1998) suggests the fact that the increasing amount of students enrolling, grade achievements, and ranking of universities in terms of teaching quality scores are the causes to make the system quantifiable, therefore clearly calculable. Ritzer (1998) also notices that the growth of standardised courses, and employing textbooks and multi-choice examinations are made to make McDonaldisation predictable. Smith and Webster (1997) realise that McDonaldisation can take control over what happens in universities by introducing appraisal systems for academics and induction of teacher training qualifications and systems of achieving professional development. From this, it can be deduced to lay people to ask if McDonaldisation is a good or bad thing (Smith and Webster, 1997).

Hayes and Wynyard (2002:33) recognise that another way of McDonaldisation has become efficient is the way the UK has a centralised system of higher education run by an interventionist bureaucracy. They argue that the purpose of this bureaucratic control on the higher education is to make universities more efficient and enterprising (Hayes and Wynyard, 2002:33). Nevertheless, Hartley (1995:420) believes that increasing bureaucratisation does not have a democratic effect as it increases access to higher education. He claims that borrowing liberally from consumer society will make the university of the near even more post-modern as it is today; also, to retain many of its traditional components (Hayes and Wynyard, 2002:12). It could be inferred that the students are being treated as customers as they are not aware of the marketisation of higher education encouraged by governments (Hayes and Wynyard, 2002:33).

Ritzer (1998:159) believes that students increasingly perceive education as a commodity for consumption. By what Ritzer (1998:159) means by this, is that the student being a consumer seeks choice, “edutainment” and diversity from what universities provide; thus, leading to the academe expecting to adapt from a producer to a consumer-driven approach to educational provision. Interdisciplinary and modularity creates choices in the pattern of consumption and as a consequence traditional and highly structured single disciplinary courses based upon the established disciplines begin to wither away (Ritzer, 1998:159).

Hayes and Wynyard (2002:65) develop from Ritzer’s (1998:159) view of commoditisation, that as a “sovereign” consumer, the individual has increased choice and discretion over her or his subjects of study, but the discreet subject context that differ one academic program from another is much diluted. Hayes and Wynyard (2002:65) continue to say that the shift in the relationship between “producers” and “consumers” of education has significant consequences; thus, meaning that the students have a greater responsibility of choosing out her or his course, but such freedom tends to transform the relationship between and teaching. As a result, the academic exercises power without authority and students seek to prove them, but there is no one in authority to respond (Hayes and Wynyard, 2002:65).

“Consuming” education, the student group come to accept the usual ascetic and improvised experience of student life and need to McWork (Hayes and Wynyard, 2002:14). In the UK, new student group leave with �12,000 ($18,000) of debt after paying for consumption and state funding which covered everything, including books; thus, this expansion of educational consumption is said to have value (Hayes and Wynyard, 2002:14). The British target is 50% for young people to attend university, but that 50% want a liberal education (Hayes and Wynyard, 2002:14).

Hart (1990) states that the attractions of a liberal education are easily enumerated that reading literature and philosophy, political theory and history enables students to find ways of explaining human behaviour, that learning about great accomplishments of humanity and the cultural ingenuity evident in all societies, gives a sense of the civilising and humanising function of ideas. The humanities and social sciences show education to be a democratising influence and a source of civil liberty and individual freedom (Hayes and Wynyard, 2002:186). Finally, reading and thinking generates a critical perspective that provides individuals with intellectual tools to challenge received doctrines (Hayes and Wynyard, 2002:186). This could be inferred that these values and ideals that are seen to be in danger of trivialisation and commoditisation as the effects of McDonaldisation and economic rationalism encroach into the education sector society (Hayes and Wynyard, 2002:186).

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