It is perhaps uncontroversial to suggest that the higher education sector of the United Kingdom is rapidly being re-conceptualised and reorganised along business lines. The trappings of the business world now figure prominently (if still a little uneasily) in the day to day life of the academy: ‘the language of efficiency, utility, inputs, outputs and project; the dominance of the mass over the individual; the rise of so-called ‘spreadsheet economics’; and the rejection of an alternative language of tutelage, efficacy and students’ (Preston, 2001, p. 353).2 The stark ascendance of this business symbolism masks the complexity of the cultural changes it announces. With fewer and fewer qualms, indeed hardly noticing, we now happily configure students as ‘consumers of educational output’ (Vanderstraeten, 2004, p. 195) and teachers as product providers; knowledge comes in packages and we are the retailers.
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