Myths about students in higher education pervade both popular and academic literature. Such folklore thrives due to the belated devel- opment of systematic enquiry into higher education as a field of academic study, the neglect of an historical perspective, and an over- reliance on opinion-based scholarship and interview data drawn from University lecturers as a proxy for interpreting student attitudes. This paper analyses three popular myths about University students: expansion of the participation rate lowers academic standards (‘more means worse’), students in the past were more intrinsically motivated (‘loss of love for learning’), and learners apply market-based assump- tions in engaging with higher education as a commodity (‘student-as -consumer’). These myths have an enduring verisimilitude but the evidence underpinning such claims cannot be empirically substan- tiated. It is argued that, taken collectively, these myths constitute a recurring moral panic about University students and that the veracity of such claims needs to be evaluated critically on this basis.
Bibliographical noteProvisional acceptance date added, based on publication date.
- SoE Centre for Knowledge, Culture, and Society
- SoE Centre for Higher Education Transformations
- higher education
- moral panic
- academic standards