The 'self-service' student: building enterprise-wide systems into universities
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This article investigates the take-up by universities of enterprise-wide computer systems and the development of a new module for the management and administration of students. Having its origins in Electronic Commerce, the system assumes the existence of a certain kind of user, one with particular roles and responsibilities – a self-service user. The notion of ‘self-service’ is deployed as an integral part of the system rollout where students are to view, input and modify administrative and financial information on themselves and their courses. Drawing from the sociology of science and technology, and material from a three-year ethnographic study, we describe the system’s implementation in a British university. While accepting of the need for an ERP system the campus community reject self-service. However, as we will show, because Campus Management is a ‘global product’ unwanted functionality can be difficult to resist outright and this can have important implications for the autonomy of the university and the reshaping of fundamental principles and relationships.