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Anwar Tlili and Susan Wright

The UK government's 2004 law, aiming to make universities contribute to Britain's success in the global knowledge economy, creates an explicit market in higher education. Students are presumed to occupy the status of consumer in an economic transaction with universities. The law gives students a right to information and an audit function so that their choices as 'intelligent consumers' will 'drive change' in universities. Interviews in two contrasting universities explore students' responses to this discourse and reveal their different aspirations and concepts of education. Yet they share doubts that regimes of audit and notions of accountability to consumers will not make their voices really 'count'.