Each year, hundreds of thousands of students travel to various countries in order to study at different universities. Along with a lack of public funding for universities, this has caused an increasingly competitive market where universities are competing against themselves to get students to choose them. This competition is inducing stress in everyone involved!
This competitive market was further fortified because of a wide range of performance indicators that exist all over the global higher education sector. The idea of winning and not losing has taken roots so deep that no one is enjoying the process anymore. In fact, from universities that are trying to earn the ‘top spots’ by competing against one another, students are being taught how to compete to become the most ‘employable’.
The stakes are not low for universities that are involved in this competition, but the stakes for the academics and students transform into elevated stress levels. Now, more than ever, students are dropping out of universities on account of mental health problems. The mental health of academics is also suffering quite heavily. According to a recent study, 43% of the academic staff has exhibited signs of at least a single mild mental disorder that can be attributed to increased workloads and pressures that surround the job.
When you treat knowledge production as a game, this places the academics in competition with one another since they are pressed to publish first and to publish more. This directly affects the quality of knowledge and causes high levels of stress. Despite the fact that it has been proven again and again that working together and by cooperating with one another; we can perform better, many people are still a slave to the idea that competition is what efficiently organizes society.
The competition among students that is inducing stress is being measured by the outcomes of a student along with graduate employment once they complete their studies in the university. Students and lecturers are subjected to insanely-high levels of stress for staying focused on results rather than the process. Put simply; we have transformed education into a game where ‘game community’ is dominant. The game community is all about winning and that’s it.
It is important to cultivate the ‘play community’ that is more focused on the involvement of the players and allows the players to decide if the game is worth playing. The need for the game community is at an all-time high since a recent poll of about 38,000 UK students has concluded that psychological distress and illness are on the rise in the universities.