With all the talk of tuition fees rising, I've been thinking about different ways of viewing the problem of the funding of education. In particular, I'm wondering about whether we have to see this through the lens of the 'benefits' of learning? What about the benefits of 'institutional membership' and participating in the maintenance of cultural institutions? Why not see students as shareholders in the institution for life reaping dividends (maybe in terms of rising social capital) for their 'investment' rather than purchasers of learning?
It strikes me that universities have been around for 900 years because people have cared for them in the past. That care relationship is not something based on consumption, but rather on custodianship, and students have been the main custodians.
If you pursue this membership model, what then becomes of academic quality and the 'degree awarding' role of the University? If my role in the University is to help take care of it, how does the taking care relate to the achievement of qualifications? These strike me as interesting questions!