Indeed, students as consumers is at the heart of the argument for private provision of education. But I shall say that this is a false argument. It is possible to see the student as a 'citizen', a participant, someone who must be actively engaged in the process of education and whose education will impact the wider society, and provide education for a profit. In fact, the reductionist arguments of students as consumers and consequent efforts like League Tables (and I must cite Malcolm Gladwell's excellent 'The Order of Things' here) are completely off the mark.
Krugman says that reducing patients to just 'consumers' and doctors as 'providers' say something about the society's values; the same indeed can be said about the 'student as consumer' debate.