How not to solve university unhappiness

A book on unhappiness in British universities? Great. Much needed. But, from the review at least, you get the sense that he’s totally Missing The Point:

Students are also thought to be victims of the happiness industry. The author suggests that rather than enhancing wellbeing, the preoccupation with student satisfaction, value for money and support for special needs may, in fact, breed unhappiness. Surveys of student satisfaction are singled out for blame: Watson highlights a “reverse Hawthorne effect” based on their findings, where “the more they are encouraged to assert their consumer rights, the more inclined they will be to be grumpy”.

So, it has no connection to the vague and insatiable demands placed on students, the ways in which teachers assign work with only the faintest idea of how much effort is required for it, or how offhand comments are endlessly amplified by an undergraduate culture generally dependent on rumour to figure out what the tutors really want?

[I avoided academic misery almost entirely, by a combination of being personally resistent to pressure, and studying in a department that went out of its way to shield students from the paranoia across the rest of the university. But I was one of the very few lucky ones]

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