I highly recommend reading this.
Though I made a comment, it is so similar to others, that, for regular readers, I just recommend the NY Times piece. Here is my comment.
Prof. Hall is correct about students as “customers”; though the problem is not with them. It is with the “caterers”. Here is David Riesman in 1980,
“..the “wants” of students to which competing institutions, departments, and individual faculty members cater are quite different from the “needs” of students..advantage can still be taken of [students] by unscrupulous instructors and institutions..”
Yet, no amount of opinions, comments, or generalizations, can prepare people who live outside the academy for the stark reality of what happens in many of today’s Institutes of Higher “Education”.
That is why I decided to publish my experiences as a professor on my blog inside-higher-ed . Here is an example of what I saw.
When I taught math at a school, similar to Penn (Washington U. in St. Louis), I was told to make a course that is critical for engineers into a “cookbook” course – even though a student-tutor (for my class) who took the “cookbook” version (and made an A in it) “complained” (about me) that he could rarely do the MIT problems that my students were doing regularly. I didn’t change the course.)
The Math Dep’t. wanted to keep the course (big bucks, I was told) and the Engineering School wanted “retention” of their majors; so much so, that, when informed that students who cheat on homework do poorly on exams, the Dean of Academic Integrity wrote back to tell me not to “discourage” the students.
For the whole story, see “A Tale Out of School on my blog.