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Durham University

School of Education

Research Projects

Critical Analysis of the Higher Education Green and White Papers (2015-2016): Student Representation and Response

A research project of the School of Education.


This project focuses on the UK Government’s (2015) higher education consultation document 'Fulfilling our potential: teaching excellence, social mobility and student choice' (hereafter: the Green Paper). The Green Paper proposes a number of reforms in the English higher education landscape, including the most prominent proposal: the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF). While the TEF has received significant attention from academics and media, there has been very little discussion around the underpinning economic discourses driving the reforms and student positioning as consumers. Even less attention has been paid to students’ experiences of consumerist policy discourses. Framed by critical discourse analysis, this project will engage with five student unions; it will analyse the unions’ publicly available responses to the Green Paper, and it will carry out focus groups with student members involved in policy consultation. The key aim is to explore the ways in which students understand and respond to dominant consumerist discourses.


From the School of Education