By Dr Sharon Coen
The changes in Higher Education (HE) have exacerbated some misunderstandings concerning what the University is for, and what students can expect to get from the University experience. Many have claimed that HE is becoming more of a ‘business’ or a paid for ‘service’.
Many in HE find themselves having to face disgruntled students who say they have paid £9000 therefore they expect this or that ‘service’.
Personally, I deeply dislike the idea of HE as a business, but for the sake of argument let’s follow this line of reasoning.
So, if Universities are a business, what sort of business are they? A Grocery, providing food for thought? An airline, with a one way ticket for a successful career? A SPA, full of people there to look after your health and wellbeing?
No. Higher education is a gym.
We have initial health checks (entry criteria), machines (libraries and infrastructures) personal trainers (lecturers and tutors), personalised programs (courses, optional modules and support material), health-checks (assessments and feedback), ….There are fancy gyms, newly built gyms, gyms equipped with the latest technologies, gyms with saunas and relax areas, gyms renowned for certain activities they offer or for certain – particularly successful – trainers, etc…
But one thing is common to all the gyms (and I know it well, trust me, as I wasted hundreds of pounds on gym memberships): if you do not put the work in, you are not going to build the muscles. You can have the best equipment, the best trainer, the most tailored health check and training plan, but if you do not sweat, there is nothing the gym can do for you.
So, dear students, enrolling in HE you have signed up to a very luxurious and very expensive gym. Of course, people sign up to the gym for different reasons: some just want a place to hang out with their friends, others want to find a romantic partner, others are simply looking for a distractions. In this case, of course, showing up every once in a while with a charming smile and a light attitude would suffice to guarantee your goals are achieved. Yet, others sign up to the gym to improve their body shape, build muscles or lose weight: to be successful in this case, you need to attend your gym, put in the work and the sweat and listen to your trainers’ feedback.
Simply signing up – for how expensive it is – is not a guarantee for success. Hard work is.