There ‘s an interesting article on the BBC website about whether students should think like customers. The thrust is that it might be dangerous because it forces cash-strapped academics to demean themselves by marketing their courses. The pain, the pain

As a training consultant and business owner, I ‘m used to making the link between customers and learners. For me, they are one and the same. When I say that I treat the learners in our workshops as ‘customers ‘, I am stating the facts. This is not to denigrate; it is to describe.

I suppose it counts as controversial in some circles, but I ‘m glad about the new link between universities and business, and the new perspective of a university as a business. Why?

For one thing, it allows professional training organisations like Sensei to apply our skills within the academic realm. It ‘s good to mix it up a little. At present we are one of the training providers for The Queen ‘s University of Belfast in Lifelong Learning and Continuing Professional Development within the School of Education. So I ‘m biased, I ‘ll admit it.

But here are two more good reasons.

Number one – it makes academics think about the real world. You know, the one that the poor students have to go out into and make a living in, once the learning is complete. It ‘s OK for Philosophy departments to teach theories that are hundreds of years old, but when it ‘s the Business or IT departments, then there ‘s trouble ahead.

Number two – it makes academics think about the quality and standard of their teaching. Right now, did you know that university lecturers don ‘t have to take any qualifications in adult education? The result an extremely mixed bag of teaching standards. But then, most lecturers are more interested in research than teaching anyway. Students are such a nuisance

Not anymore. Money talks. Deficient university = broke university.

That ‘s one equation I like.