A Service Science Perspective on Higher Education

New Report by Robert Lusch and Christopher Wu

“A service view of the university ecosystem recognizes the relational nature of exchange between students, faculty, staff, higher education institutions, government, and other related actors.”

Policymakers are currently wrestling with fundamental but complex questions about the future of higher education, including how to hold colleges responsible for the billions of dollars in federal financial aid money they receive and how to encourage lower tuition to increase affordability for low- and middle-income families. Answering these questions requires a better understanding of how colleges operate and how we can measure their productivity and efficiency. Marketing and education experts Robert Lusch and Christopher Wu explain how thinking about college education as a service can begin to answer some of these questions.

A service science perspective on higher education


I especially liked:


“It is no longer sufficient to set higher education goals in terms of degrees and types of
degrees produced—this is an overly output-based focus. The more important metric is
the development of knowledge and skills that get bundled into a package that we call a
degree. Recent work by the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce takes
a fresh look at what skills underpin given credentials and what credentials are of more
value than others.17 This early work provides an opportunity to begin to unpack the
knowledge and skills needed in the service-oriented global economy. Also the emphasis
on T-shaped skills,18 where a person has breadth across multiple disciplines but depth in
a specific discipline, helps develop people who can better work in the cross-disciplinary
collaborative teams that are increasingly a part of all organizations and work settings.”

“Consequently, is it now possible to begin thinking of a system where a
university offers, in lieu of tuition paid upfront, a “service-level agreement” binding
contract requiring a graduate to pay a set percentage of his or her income for life to
the university? Or how about a system where the government rebates to a university a
percentage of the income taxes paid by its graduates if the university provided them a
free or heavily subsidized education?”

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