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Representations of a high-quality system of undergraduate education in English higher education policy documents

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article


Journal publication date2014
JournalStudies in Higher Education
Number of pages14
Early online date21/10/13
Original languageEnglish


This article examines the ways in which a high-quality system of undergraduate
education is represented in recent policy documents from a range of actors
interested in higher education. Drawing on Basil Bernstein’s ideas, the authors
conceptualise the policy documents as reflecting a struggle over competing
views of quality that are expressed through pedagogic discourses. They identify
two pedagogic discourses: a dominant market-oriented generic discourse and an
alternative discourse that focuses on transformation. They argue that the market oriented generic discourse is dominant because it is more coherent and more
consistently presented than the alternative discourse, which is much more
fractured. In conclusion, they argue that refocusing the alternative discourse of
quality around students’ relations to academic knowledge may offer a way in
which to bring the different actors from the higher education field together in
order to form a stronger, more cohesive voice.

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