Student satisfaction in higher education: settling up and settling down

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Student satisfaction measures serve to provide a measure of ‘quality’ in the current audit culture of universities. This paper argues that the form of satisfaction valued within contemporary Higher Education amounts to a form of settling, where the primary aim is to settle the students’ expectations, and meet their needs. Drawing initially on the etymology of ‘satisfaction’, the paper then turns to the work of Martin Heidegger and his notion of the ‘uncanny’ (das Unheimliche), to discuss how we are ontologically unsettled. The uncanny will be discussed in relation to the Greek play Antigone, and illustrated with examples from the novel Stoner. In provoking angst or anxiety by leaving students ‘unsettled’ in terms of their thinking, this may open students up to a consideration of more ontological concerns – within their Higher Education but also in their lives more generally.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)364-377
JournalEthics and Education
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 26 Jun 2017


  • student satisfaction
  • settling
  • unsettling
  • Heidegger
  • the uncanny


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