Certifying effect and consumer effect: Some remarks on strategies employed by higher education institutions
Girod de l'Ain, Bertrand (1981), Certifying effect and consumer effect: Some remarks on strategies employed by higher education institutions, Higher Education, 10, 1, p. 55-73. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/BF00154892
TypeArticle accepté pour publication ou publié
Journal nameHigher Education
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Author(s)Girod de l'Ain, Bertrand
Abstract (EN)The term “certification”, as used in discussions concerning higher education, is clarified and a distinction made between terminal awards which do have a genuine “certifying effect” in the sense of procuring admission to a profession and those which do not. Institutions wishing to increase the value of the “certifying effect” of their awards, seek to do this by stimulating applications for entry to their institution. The longer the queue at the gate the greater the prestige of the terminal award. The ability to influence the “certifying effect” of an award does not, however, lie with the teaching institutions alone; business, the employers and the professions can, and increasingly do, determine the relative value of awards and of different ways of preparing for the exercise of a particular profession. The case of the business schools in France is described to illustrate how teaching institutions once they are established seek to increase the “certifying effect” of the diplomas they award by actually reducing the number of graduates. The numerus clausus, as applied to medical schools, provides another example of the same phenomenon. Such strategies lead to what the author describes as “consumer effect”. Once admittance to a prestige institution has been gained, entry to a position of influence and possibly affluence, is more or less assured. Students in such institutions, in both capitalist and communist countries, have exploited this by persuading teaching staff to acquiesce in a reduction of the demands made by the course, though some directors of institutions have begun to respond by failing more students, seeking to re-establish positions surrendered in the days of student unrest and by these and other means seeking to reduce “consumer effect”. Teacher training colleges provide an interesting example of institutions having a low but certain “certifying effect”, producing a high “consumer effect”. The possibility of deriving a general theory from the proposition put forward in the article is discussed.
Subjects / Keywordscertification
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