Are Students our ‘Customers’? : A Perspective on the Bureaucratic Implications of ‘student-customer’ Concept in Malaysian Higher Learning Institutions


This paper is about the use and abuse of treating students as ‘customers’ and implications that follow for quality assurance in Malaysian higher learning institutions. Students graduating from PhD programs in higher learning institutions are increasing in number every year. In the year 2012 alone a number of public universities have produced or have ‘graduated’ hundreds of students with PhD qualifications. However, the bulk of them were found to be foreign students, especially from the Middle Eastern countries. The mushrooming number of higher learning institutions over the past decade has led to stiff competitions amongst them, especially in the context of student recruitment. This paper discusses the mounting pressure to accept students who are not capable of doctoral-level work, concerns about overseas students' language difficulties and the bureaucratic difficulties of failing PhD candidates. It is inevitable that a push for quantity of PhD students leads to diminution of quality because resources never match the increases, leading to poor supervision, disappointed students and lower-quality work. It is argued that treating students as customers, especially in the context “customers are always right” would be clearly corrosive to the education industry. Although these managerial or business concept probably meant with best of intentions, it is likely to have results that are a contrary to the best interests of the students themselves.

Author Information
Seloamoney Palaniandy, Infrastructure University Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Paper Information
Conference: ACE2013
Stream: Education

This paper is part of the ACE2013 Conference Proceedings (View)
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