• Students on screen: shifting representations of the student on British screens since 2010

      Calver, Kay; Michael-Fox, Bethan (2021-11-17)
      As the number of university students in Britain has expanded so has public interest in them, expressed across a range of media. This talk will explore how the idea of ‘the student’ is conceptualised, constructed, and negotiated in recent British television documentary, drama and comedy genres. Conceiving of television as a space in which people experience and engage with complex social understandings, we examine how the representation of the student on the British television screen has shifted in recent years from positioning students predominantly as fun-loving, promiscuous and irresponsible to emphasising the ways in which they are vulnerable and increasingly politically charged subjects, whilst universities themselves have come to be represented as predatory and profit driven enterprises. Please be aware that this talk includes reference to both fictional and factual televisual coverage of the topics of student suicide and sexual assault.
    • Under pressure: representations of student suicide in higher education

      Calver, Kay; Michael-Fox, Bethan (Mortality, 2021-10-06)
      This article examines what the representation of university student suicide in three British television documentaries reveals about media constructions of suicide and the pressures young people experience at university. Within these documentaries, student suicide is positioned as a risk endemic in a high pressure, high-cost performance culture. Young students are depicted as stressed and ‘on the edge’, either as a consequence of the academic pressure of university or the coalescence of academic, financial and social pressures. Debates about the responsibility of individuals and the accountability of institutions come to the fore as depictions of students as fully fledged and responsible adults jostle with the notion of students as ‘adults in transition’, at risk and in need of institutions to actively monitor and intervene in their lives. The documentaries offer insight into shifting media constructions of the student from ‘fun loving’ and ‘carefree’ to ‘under pressure’ and ‘at risk’. Within them, student suicide is positioned not only as a profound personal loss, but as an economic loss to a society neglecting its young people.