The UX University

Emotionally Situating Student Experience in a Post-Protest, Marketized Sector


  • Tony Sampson



This article focuses on the critical role emotions, feelings and affect play in situating student experience during a major transition from rebellion against fees to an apparent capitulation to the marketization of the higher education (HE) sector. The discussion begins by shining a light on the “viscerality” of student fees protests in London in 2010. Through imagery and oral histories, the protests appear to comprise of joyful collective and contagious encounters, disobedient optimism, riotous anger, and eventual violence. Yet, following defeat in Parliament, the visceral intensity of rebellion seems to have been exhausted. Indeed, following a summary of the marketization of the HE sector, the second part of the article introduces the concept of the UX University. As follows, for many universities struggling to survive in an overly competitive marketplace for student numbers, UX is supposed to provide an edge. UX principles have therefore been incorporated throughout the student experience journey, including the tracking of emotional touchpoints that inform managerial metrics and enable the convergence of learning experiences, market design, and employee performance. In short, the UX university is significantly shaped by the emotional branding of student experience.
Drawing on the work of Neetu Khanna (2020), the article concludes by defining the shift away from the viscerality of rebellion toward a digitally enhanced fattening of felt affect, as an “evisceration” of the student (user) experience. 


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How to Cite

Sampson, T. (2023). The UX University: Emotionally Situating Student Experience in a Post-Protest, Marketized Sector. Persona Studies, 9(1), 17–35.