This paper is arguing that some fundamental needs of student staff relationships in the university have remained consistent but the capacity for them to be met within higher education has changed, as society, and the university as one instantiation of society – late consumer capitalist society- has changed.
The context of this paper is working in higher education for 25years, mostly on a professional social work degree. The kinds of students we recruit represent 2 distinct populations: post 18 students with good academic qualifications and a small amount of experience- e.g. volunteer experience, in social work, many of whom in UK tradition have left home to come to university. And older students e.g. from access to education courses, many of whom have families, some of whom have a great deal of pre-professional social work experience, and usually living locally (and of course there are those in between). The balance has changed – which I will return to.
This is a psychosocial paper. I look at the consumer capitalist context of late modern society which impacts on all institutions and all relationships through marketisation and individualisation, and then focus this specifically on universities and the programmes they can offer.
Then I go on to consider some of the psychic needs of students, many of which are relatively unchanging, and demonstrate that in various ways these new university ‘businesses’ are less able to meet them
I focus briefly on the staff and how the institutional damage caused by marketisation to their work and working context makes them less able to respond helpfully to students – to hold them in mind, e.g.
I summarise by arguing that really the new marketised university struggles to offer the kinds of holding and creative environments best suited to student education, and that therefore in a marketised context the relationships between students and staff are impoverished and damaged.
Frost, L. (2013, November). Student staff relationships in a climate of insecurity: New bargains and new boundaries