An investigation into the effect of increased tuition fees on the attitudes and opinions of UK academic library staff towards their customers and their roles

  • Marion Pascal Harris

Student thesis: Master's ThesisMaster of Economic and Social Studies


The purpose of this dissertation was to explore what effect increased tuition fees have had on the attitudes and opinions of UK academic library staff towards their customers and their roles. The project set out to obtain library staff opinions about students being considered consumers, and explore whether Library Managers have implemented any changes to their services or strategy as a result of the increased tuition fees. Furthermore, the research aimed to discover whether library staff feel their roles and working life have been influenced by the increased tuition fees, and whether library managers are responsive to any impact the increased tuition fees have had on their staff. A mixed-methods research strategy was used. This comprised four qualitative semi-structured interviews with Library Managers, and two qualitative focus groups with Library Assistants. Participants also completed a quantitative demographic questionnaire. It was discovered that library staff felt some students had adopted a consumer mindset towards universities and their libraries due to increased fees. Resource provision, facilities and opening hours were common areas where expectations had increased. Library staff revealed mixed attitudes towards students in this context. Participants cared about providing excellent library services to meet their users’ needs, and sympathised with the financial pressures facing students; nonetheless concerns were raised that students have an increasing sense of entitlement, and that accepting a “consumer” view of students could damage libraries’ educational purpose. It was found that student recruitment, student experience, and graduate employability were priorities for universities in the context of increased fees. In libraries, common responses were renovation of facilities, extended opening hours, extra investment in resources, and an increased focus on NSS results. However, tuition fees were not the only factor affecting academic libraries and their staff; other influences included pedagogical styles, technological developments, and the growth of e-resources.
Date of Award2015
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Aberystwyth University
SupervisorJudy Broady-Preston (Supervisor) & David Ellis (Supervisor)

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