Taking a cue from the airline and sport industries, UNS recently announced a pilot project to introduce pay-per-seat tiered seating in classrooms. Five of UNS’ lecture halls will be retrofitted and divided into four tiers: Economy, Economy Plus, Business and Business Elite. Students will be presented with an option to upgrade their seating beyond the default Economy. Economy Plus offers more leg room and students can bring one small bag in addition to their laptop. Business and Business Elite offer a more bespoke learning experience. In addition to larger seats and more legroom, students seated in the Business section will have access to coat hooks and water fountains while those in Business Elite will have all the above amenities with a personal concierge to attend to their needs during class.

Lois Stillman, Assistant Vice-President: Space, Hydration and Nourishment, identifies the pilot project as a win-win: “this will allow those students that want an enhanced educational experience to purchase one while also generating more revenue for UNS.” But an instructor in one of the rooms, Dr. P.J. Stella, is less optimistic, noting “it’s yet another example of the neoliberalization of higher education, focused as it is with the monetization of learning, the complete debasement of education, and a focused attack on academic freedom,” concluding “this program is nothing less than a harbinger of the downfall of Western civilization.” The retrofitted lecture halls will come on-line in early 2023.

“traditional lecture halls simply do not meet the needs of today’s students” — Lois Stillman


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