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Are Spanish students customers? Paradoxical perceptions of the impact of marketisation on higher education in Spain

Are Spanish students customers? Paradoxical perceptions of the impact of marketisation on higher education in Spain
Are Spanish students customers? Paradoxical perceptions of the impact of marketisation on higher education in Spain
This article examines how higher education (HE) students are conceptualised in Spain, drawing on an analysis of policy and institutional narratives about such students, as well as on the perspectives of university staff and students themselves. More specifically, it will explore an interesting paradox that we encountered in our data: on one hand, marketisation is less firmly established in the HE system of Spain than in many other European countries, and policy and institutional narratives in Spain present the HE system as being relatively unmarketised. On the other hand, the staff and students we interviewed presented the Spanish HE system and the student experience as having been dramatically transformed by marketisation. In analysing this paradox, the article highlights the importance of not viewing countries as coherent educational entities. In addition – while broadly supporting scholarship that has pointed to a growing market orientation of national HE systems across Europe – the article draws attention to how the manner in which the marketisation of HE is experienced on the ground can be very different in different national contexts, and may be mediated by a number of factors, including perceptions about the quality of educational provision and the labour market rewards of a degree; the manner in which the private cost of education (if any) is borne by students and their families; and the extent to which marketisation may have become entrenched and normalised in the HE system of a country.
Europe, Spain, consumer, higher education, marketisation, policy, students
1360-7804
185-204
Jayadeva, Sazana
aa3b53f0-7785-4be9-ac2c-6dd16049adc3
Brooks, Rachel
e38ef734-6d0d-4d86-b2d8-909831b67619
Gupta, Achala
a30fa79d-e9dc-4237-93d4-bdaf8816780a
Abrahams, Jessie
2f815106-e50a-42f4-ad17-c981a3372440
Lažetič, Predrag
6b03fdb5-4a30-4aac-850c-2db392cbb24e
Lainio, Anu
fb57f009-14d0-44f2-b596-dd1fc0bc916a
Jayadeva, Sazana
aa3b53f0-7785-4be9-ac2c-6dd16049adc3
Brooks, Rachel
e38ef734-6d0d-4d86-b2d8-909831b67619
Gupta, Achala
a30fa79d-e9dc-4237-93d4-bdaf8816780a
Abrahams, Jessie
2f815106-e50a-42f4-ad17-c981a3372440
Lažetič, Predrag
6b03fdb5-4a30-4aac-850c-2db392cbb24e
Lainio, Anu
fb57f009-14d0-44f2-b596-dd1fc0bc916a

Jayadeva, Sazana, Brooks, Rachel, Gupta, Achala, Abrahams, Jessie, Lažetič, Predrag and Lainio, Anu (2021) Are Spanish students customers? Paradoxical perceptions of the impact of marketisation on higher education in Spain. Sociological Research Online, 26 (1), 185-204. (doi:10.1177/1360780420968577).

Record type: Article

Abstract

This article examines how higher education (HE) students are conceptualised in Spain, drawing on an analysis of policy and institutional narratives about such students, as well as on the perspectives of university staff and students themselves. More specifically, it will explore an interesting paradox that we encountered in our data: on one hand, marketisation is less firmly established in the HE system of Spain than in many other European countries, and policy and institutional narratives in Spain present the HE system as being relatively unmarketised. On the other hand, the staff and students we interviewed presented the Spanish HE system and the student experience as having been dramatically transformed by marketisation. In analysing this paradox, the article highlights the importance of not viewing countries as coherent educational entities. In addition – while broadly supporting scholarship that has pointed to a growing market orientation of national HE systems across Europe – the article draws attention to how the manner in which the marketisation of HE is experienced on the ground can be very different in different national contexts, and may be mediated by a number of factors, including perceptions about the quality of educational provision and the labour market rewards of a degree; the manner in which the private cost of education (if any) is borne by students and their families; and the extent to which marketisation may have become entrenched and normalised in the HE system of a country.

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More information

e-pub ahead of print date: 12 November 2020
Published date: 1 March 2021
Additional Information: Funding Information: We would like to thank all those who kindly gave up their time to be interviewed or take part in a focus group. We are also very grateful to the European Research Council for funding the research upon which this article is based (through the award of a Consolidator Grant to Rachel Brooks). Publisher Copyright: © The Author(s) 2020.
Keywords: Europe, Spain, consumer, higher education, marketisation, policy, students

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 451080
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/451080
ISSN: 1360-7804
PURE UUID: 128bf8a6-6ace-4e96-932a-ade73df9f4d1
ORCID for Achala Gupta: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-3172-8198

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Date deposited: 07 Sep 2021 16:31
Last modified: 09 Nov 2022 03:03

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Contributors

Author: Sazana Jayadeva
Author: Rachel Brooks
Author: Achala Gupta ORCID iD
Author: Jessie Abrahams
Author: Predrag Lažetič
Author: Anu Lainio

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