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The role obligations of learners and lecturers in higher educationThe current discussion of consumerism in higher education focuses largely on what the providers are obliged to do for the consumers, fuelled by the rising tuition fees. This framework does not always sit comfortably with lecturers in the context of a learning and teaching relationship, as it appears to ignore the reciprocal obligations lecturers and learners have to one another. The purpose of this paper is to offer an alternative view of what lecturers and learners are obliged to do in the learning and teaching relationship, if learning is to be effective. The claims made in this paper are as follows: in higher education, both learners and lecturers have moral role obligations; these moral role obligations are derived from the functions of the roles being voluntarily undertaken by each party; therefore, by ascertaining the functions of a learner and of a lecturer, both a descriptive purpose and a normative purpose will be revealed for each; using moral role obligations as a basis for the student/lecturer relationship offers a less contentious alternative to the consumerist model. This paper demonstrates, using Aristotle’s function argument, that defining the function of an entity (in this case a role), has both a descriptive and normative purpose. It then briefly outlines possible definitions for the roles of learner and lecturer in higher education. Having made a claim (albeit a tentative one) to define the functions of learner and lecturer, recommendations are made on how these role obligations can be utilised to create an effective learning relationship.