Contracting with Students: Re-Thinking Higher Education as ‘invitation to treat’

Activity: Talk or presentationInvited talk

Amanda Fulford - Invited speaker

In July 2017, the then Universities Minister, Jo Johnson, announced that universities and other higher education institutions will be expected to offer value-for-money contracts that set out what undergraduates should expect in terms of lecture time, assessment and feedback. He also announced that the newly created Office for Students (OfS) would consult on introducing the contracts to give students more consumer rights and protection over the education for which they are paying.
This paper takes the idea of contracting with students as a starting point. It begins by looking at what is at stake in creating a legally binding contract. Using examples from contract law, it then argues that it is difficult to think of education in such terms. The process of undergoing education is not reducible to a set of pre-determined experiences to which each party agrees. While contacts in relation to matters such as accommodation, offer benefits and protections for both parties, contracting with students over their education is highly problematic. Rather, education is better understood as falling short a contract – known legally as an ‘invitation to treat’. The paper then suggests how education-as-invitation is a richer conception of the aims of higher education.
18 Apr 2018

Event (Seminar)

TitleCentre for Higher Education Studies
Abbrev. TitleCHES
Web address (URL)
LocationUCL, University of London
CountryUnited Kingdom
Degree of recognitionNational event

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