Higher Education in a Globalised Market: A Comparative Discourse Study of University Prospectuses in Hong Kong and the United Kingdom
Hui, Kin Lam
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The globalization of higher education has been greatly accelerated in the 21st century. International student recruitment not only enriches cultural diversity but also provides huge revenue to education providers. This study is a written discourse analysis of the introductory pages of university prospectuses in the two culturally distinct institutional contexts of Hong Kong and the United Kingdom. Applying Bhatia’s (1993) model of applied genre analysis, a five-move generic structure has been identified in 14 selected introductory pages which display evidence of interdiscursivity “with elements of advertising and other promotional genres” (Fairclough, 1993: 146). The introductory pages are established as a hybrid promotional genre sharing a recognisable set of three communicative purposes: persuading, welcoming and informing. Halliday’s (1994) functional grammar approach is adopted to closely examine how the introductory pages represent the experimental and interpersonal metafunctions of language by analysing the grammar of clauses (with a focus on transitivity) and allocation of social roles (with a focus on personal pronouns). Although there are variations shown in move structures, promotional strategies and linguistic and multimodal resources, both Hong Kong and British universities tend to maintain a common institutional role and most irregularities are due to “organisational differences” (Bhatia, 1999: 27). Individual universities push out the generic boundaries to fulfil private intentions so as to stand out from their regional or international counterparts. It is hoped that the recommendations for writing prospectuses can be applied effectively and extended to other related advertising genres to help universities and international educational organisation produce better promotional texts which target their intended audience.