Discourses on competition and international student diversity in Higher Education: a linguistic ethnography on a Midlands based university

De, Debbie (2019). Discourses on competition and international student diversity in Higher Education: a linguistic ethnography on a Midlands based university. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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This thesis presents a linguistic ethnography set in a MB (Midlands Based) University, England. It examines discourses of competition in relation to discourses about diversity. There is a particular interest in how diversity is discursively constructed in relation to international students. Data sources include MB University’s strategy which documents its aspirations to be a ‘world leading’ ‘global’ and ‘original’ university attracting students from all over the world; individual interviews with staff and students from across MB University’s business school; a focus group interview of students enrolled on postgraduate business programmes; and the description for a required module followed by postgraduate business students.

Using the tools of ethnographically informed discourse analysis, the study makes the following claims. First, evidence is presented which illustrates how an ideology of neoliberalism and competition dominates the written documents and can also be found within some staff and student voices. This ideology presents diversity as a commodified resource which supresses other possible diversity discourses such as social justice.

Second, data reveal how the urban city environment in which the university is situated interplays with diversity within the student population. Strategy discourse tends to present diversity in the locality and the quality of its international student migrants as a distinguishing feature of the city and university. In contrast, staff and students characterise diversity in the local and student population in relation to their everyday lives, articulating the banality and challenges, including experiences of discrimination, of social differences in MB University.

Third, the study documents a misalignment between staff and student views in relation to pedagogy and the international student. Staff interviews about curriculum design reveal a deficit view of international student diversity. Student interviews reveal a view of its resourcefulness, based on capital gained through extensive travel. Due to differences in the value given to educational and language capital within MB University the study finds the curriculum is a site of inequality because it reinforces the value of particular forms of English language and endorses certain pedagogic approaches (e.g. group work) over others.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
Licence: All rights reserved
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Social Sciences
School or Department: School of Education
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: L Education > L Education (General)
URI: http://etheses.bham.ac.uk/id/eprint/9813


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