Performance and productivity have become central goals in higher education reforms since the 1970s. The implications are more or less straightforward when it comes to teaching and research; academic staff should teach and publish more, while institutions should produce more graduates at a lower cost, and these graduates should quickly find a well-paid job that matches their field of study. However, while institutions and academic staff have adapted to these new forms of evaluation and funding, students seem to be less inclined to do so. It is problematic that within this equation, institutions and academics are the producers, while students are relegated to a role of products or, in the best-case scenario, clients. As products, they cannot be expected to comply with the productivity goals or the performance indicators of the institution. This article reviews how students behave and why they behave as they do, before considering the implications for productivity. The analysis focuses on Mexican higher education, but also highlights relevant results in other countries.