In an earlier post I referred to University students as ‘customers’. Some academics seem to object to this ‘title’ See, for example, here. The view of these academics – that students are not customers – is wrong. And this is a good thing for the students.
The ‘anti-customer’ view may reflect a modern day equivalent of the medieval aristocracy ‘looking down’ at merchants who engage in trade and commerce. It may reflect a view that the academic ‘knows best’ for the students and students should simply be receptacles to receive the wisdom of their academic masters.
However, as a matter of English, students are customers. A customer is a “person who purchases goods or services from another“. Our students certainly ‘purchase’ their education (i.e. they pay for it) from the University. I for one am proud to make sure my faculty’s students get exceptional value for their money and get an education that will help them through life.
From the students perspective it is important that they are customers. It means they are legally protected by the rights and privileges associated with being a customer. They are protected by Australia’s Competition and Consumer laws from being misled, subject to unconscionable or deceptive behaviour, or being at risk of anticompetitive behaviour by universities. Because they are customers, students have rights. Unwittingly, those who deny that university students are customers seek to strip them of their legal rights.