The representation of students in undergraduate prospectuses between 1998 and 2021: a diachronic corpus-assisted discourse study

Duygu Candarli (Lead / Corresponding author), Steven Jones

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Abstract

This article traces how students are represented in undergraduate prospectuses from 1998 to 2021 by employing a corpus-assisted approach to critical discourse analysis of a 1.9 million word corpus of prospectuses from a single Russell Group university in England. Recent decades have witnessed an increase in tuition fees and competition to attract students; hence, it is important to understand to what extent, if any, the representation of students has changed in the prospectuses. Our findings add to the literature by showing for the first time that the representation of students in prospectuses has shifted in ways consistent with the impact of market-driven policy on the sector. Initially, students were positioned primarily as learners, partners to the university, and members of a community. Latterly, students are positioned primarily as consumers and future professionals. These findings are significant because they capture the extent to which a market-driven agenda has been normalised by institutions, and demonstrate how this process of normalisation occurs. Even before they reach campus, young people are conditioned and defined by the market, with the prospectus presenting university as an opportunity to enhance earning power rather than to benefit from life-changing education.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages20
JournalCritical Discourse Studies
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 10 Oct 2022

Keywords

  • Corpus linguistics
  • higher education
  • students
  • university prospectuses
  • critical discourse analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences

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