If we, the students, are consumers and the university is the producer, are we, as students at the University of York, satisfied with the product supplied?
The first of many problems comes from the consideration of the institution as a totality. When we ask if we are satisfied with our time spent here, we are in reality assessing so many different institutions weakly (perhaps ineffectively) linked under the umbrella that is our university. We must comment on our department and our course separately from the University because the former has surprisingly little influence on the latter.
But what does that mean for the consumer? It shouldn’t be that we must scrutinise each individual component of the University in isolation.
Another factor which must be taken into account is a personal bias which we all have when considering this question. When I criticise and praise my department, the Students’ Union and the college system, am I not doing so heavy handedly without stepping back considering the situation objectively?
So far I have raised more questions than I could ever hope to answer but I do believe that if we are really dissatisfied, there are some things we can do.
Firstly, people really need to start thinking about how satisfied they are with the current state of affairs. Then, they need to do something about it. On the ground there are some serious problems that need addressed as quickly as possible as they won’t go away and indeed will only fester and grow in time if ignored.
League tables, for example, are just a tiny example of what we really need to work on. How can a university that comes in the top five for research in the Times league table and second only to Cambridge in teaching in the Sunday Times’ be so low? We can blame graduate recruiters from failing to look beyond the generic tables but tomorrow’s graduates will suffer when they fail to find the employment they want and deserve. Student satisfaction directly influences these poor league table results too.
There is also now the greatest need ever to leave behind the pettiness traditionally associated with campus politics and work hard to move forward and offer constructive advice as opposed to, for want of a better term, cut off one’s nose to spite the face.
Criticism must be made and in cases where it holds some truth, those involved should accept it graciously. On the other hand we must be careful when making our complaints that we don’t drag the whole process, at a Union or a University level, to a grinding halt. Complaining with out a view to eventually moving forward benefits no one.
Finally, we must start implementing these changes now. If we are dissatisfied then we must take action immediately. If we don’t, we only have ourselves to blame. If things don’t change for the better at least we can be safe in the knowledge that we tried to our full capacity. I however, being an abhorrent eternal optimist, believe that we really can change things and even if we make only marginal progress, none of it will have been in vain.