Playle, John (1996) Quality in nurse education: an exploration of the concept of students as customers. Nurse Education Today, 16 (3). pp. 215-220. ISSN 0260-6917

The issues of Quality and Quality Assurance in nurse education, have become prominent in the design, management and marketing of courses. However, quality is a concept which has many meanings. One of the central ideas which has emerged from the current discourses on quality, is that of the ‘customer’. In the new business jargon of the 1990s, with its emphasis on the market and competition, the importance of ‘satisfying the needs of the customer/consumer’ has been a dominant theme. One of the customers of nurse education is seen as the student. The reconceptualization of the student as customer may carry with it, connotations which do not readily fit into the context of education and learning as a jointly negotiated process. A collaborative, rather than consumerist model is proposed as a preferable basis for the ensuring of quality, and the involvement of students in that process. Such a model, would be in line with a truly student-centred approach to nurse education, where power is shared between those involved in the process. The importance of the current inequality of power in student-teacher relationships is a barrier to such an approach and true student participation, rather than tokenism is called for.

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