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Title: Critical exploration of the language around "the student experience" of higher education in the UK
Author: DaCosta, C.
ISNI:       0000 0004 7962 0631
Awarding Body: Canterbury Christ Church University
Current Institution: Canterbury Christ Church University
Date of Award: 2017
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This thesis explores the language of Higher Education (HE) in the UK, with a particular focus on "the student experience". Whilst research on the language of HE is plentiful, most of these studies have a discourse-oriented approach, which lacks an engagement with socio-historical and material contexts. The aim of this research is to investigate what the language surrounding "the student experience" reveals and conceals about HE and society. To this end, my thesis unravels the different dimensions of this concept to understand how it is conceptualised across three domains: a diverse group of students from a university in the south of England; the policies and observed practices of this institution; and relevant policies on HE promulgated by the UK government. With these objectives in mind, the research draws on three theoretical constructs - language, (higher) education, and critical exploration - bolstered by the work of Volosinov and Bakhtin, Ambedkar and Gramsci, and Marx and Engels. A key finding of this research is that the notion of "the student experience" encapsulates differing views on the role and purpose of HE. These differing views relate to the social positions of the text creators and reveal the social and economic relations between the addressers and their intended audience. I claim that a normative view of "the student experience" at the institutional and the state spheres is tied to a reluctance to concede that there may be flaws in the established norms and practices of HE. This refusal perpetuates a misconception that there is a singular, homogeneous student experience and fails to acknowledge a diversity of experiences. I contend that these acts of omission and commission suggest dysconscious elitism / racism (King 1991), with the apparently well-meaning and paternalistic interventions targeted at some groups of students stemming from misinformed assumptions about the academic ability of these students. More significantly, I argue that a focus on "the student experience" of diverse groups of students gives an illusion of inclusion, but seems designed instead to trap students into a long-term relationship of debt.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: LA0173 Higher education ; P Language and Literature ; P Philology. Linguistics