Customer Value and Lean Operations in Masters Education

DS 74: Proceedings of the 14th International Conference on Engineering & Product Design Education (E&PDE12) Design Education for Future Wellbeing, Antwerp, Belguim, 06-07.9.2012

Year: 2012
Editor: Lyndon Buck, Geert Frateur, William Ion, Chris McMahon, Chris Baelus, Guido De Grande, Stijn Verwulgen
Author: Watt, Cameron; Angelis, Jannis; Chapman, Damian
Series: E&PDE
Institution: 1: University for the Creative Arts, United Kingdom; 2: Royal Insititue of Technology Stockholm; 3: University for the Creaive Arts, United Kingdom
Section: Postgraduate Design Education
Page(s): 699-704
ISBN: 978-1-904670-36-0


There has been a shift towards greater independence and choice for students, as people want more information and control over their education. Moreover, universities face an increasingly complex list of challenges, ranging from cost pressures, increased levels of demographic and cultural diversity to significant competitive threats coming from both emerging economies and private universities. Seeking to better, and perhaps cheaper, manage the situation, universities have sought support in implementing industrial processes. This follows similar process implementation found in public organisations such as healthcare, where tasks throughout the organisations are set in accordance with what the end user values. This paper explores the role of the customer as specifier of value and the tension of customer wants versus student needs in a lean higher education environment. This role lies at the heart of Lean principles and operations, which poses a fundamental problem when implementing Lean in higher education due to the sometimes ambiguous reality of the student as customer. The paper identifies a potential misalignment of perceived want and need along the value chain, with associated implications to the design and provision of Masters level education. Empirically, the paper offers lean implementation advice, and conceptually it expands on the debate of appropriate lean application in the higher education sector.

Keywords: Lean, higher education, masters, course design


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