The Marketization of Higher Education Discourse: A Genre Analysis of University Website Homepages in China

Tongtong ZHANG


The past three decades have witnessed the growing influence of market forces on higher education, resulting in what is defined by Fairclough (1993) as the marketization of academic discourse. The present study attempts to examine the effect of such trend on university website homepages in China, which is an under-researched genre of higher education discourse. By applying the Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) and genre analytical approach, this article describes the generic characteristics of the “About Us” section in five university website homepages, analyzing the structural organization, rhetorical moves, communicative purposes as well as the discursive strategies used in the text. Research shows that authoritative discourse forms the key note in this genre, a reflection of the centralized operation of Chinese universities. Meanwhile, the existence of conversational discourse reveals the university’s endeavor to establish a friendly relationship with the prospective students. Furthermore, promotional elements in terms of both contents and linguistic choices have been employed to help construct a positive image of universities to stand out in the stiff competition in today’s higher education market in China.

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Higher Education Studies  ISSN 1925-4741 (Print)   ISSN 1925-475X (Online)


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