• Constructing the university student in British documentary television

      Calver, Kay; Michael-Fox, Bethan (Routledge, 2021-03-18)
      As the number of university students in Britain has expanded so has public interest in them, expressed across a range of media. This chapter investigates how university students are conceptualised and represented in recent British documentary television. Conceiving of television as a space in which people experience and engage with complex social understandings, this chapter explores how these televisual representations reflect and negotiate a range of prominent socio-cultural concerns about students. We examine how excessive, distorted and caricatured notions of the student have led to representations that are often polarised, with students positioned as either ‘at risk’ and in need of protection or as posing ‘a risk’ to themselves, to other students, and to the university sector. In a context of shifting understandings about university students in Britain and when the expansion, cost, ‘worth’ and ‘value’ of higher education are all under scrutiny, this chapter analyses the ways in which media representations can both serve to highlight and evade the complex lived realities of university students. The documentaries examined here offer sometimes contradictory constructions of the higher education student that correspond to broader social and cultural shifts in the ways in which the university student is understood in contemporary Britain.
    • 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.