English Language Policy in Higher Education in Hong Kong
: a Critical Discourse Analysis and A Comparative Study

  • Tak Yam

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Education (EdD)


The ascendancy of the English language appears to continue in Hong Kong’s post-colonial times, despite the territory’s transfer from British to Chinese sovereignty, but simultaneously be challenged by the Chinese language due to intensifying localization and integration with China and China’s rise in the world stage.

This thesis examines the contemporary English language policy process in higher education (HE) in Hong Kong against the city’s post-colonial political economic sociolinguistic context by investigating how the English language policies in public HE in Hong Kong are constructed by the government’s University Grants Committee (UGC), and how two public universities respond to the UGC policies.

Via Critical Discourse Analysis, the on-line Major Reports of UGC are dissected to deconstruct the UGC policies; while the on-line Mission Statements of the English Language Centres of the two case universities are scrutinized to illuminate their partial responses to the policies. The issues unpacked from these analyses were discussed in interviews with relevant stakeholders in both universities to study their on-the-ground practices as the remaining components of the case universities’ responses to the policies. The two universities’ practices are compared to reveal how they enact the policies similarly and divergently.

The overarching findings are:
(1) Both universities’ responses converged with UGC’s (‘evolved’) hegemony encased in the policies but with the stakeholders in both universities demonstrating critical strategic competence that operated more elaborately than the UGC hegemony being able to see beyond it in various aspects;
(2) The universities’ responses were framed by their specific contexts in terms of contrasting medium of instruction backgrounds and differing university-level management directives; and
(3) Throughout the policy process, English was a discursive, ideological and contested social construct; whereas globalization was characterized as ‘current’, ‘given’ and ‘non-negotiable’ but with it explicitly acknowledged and embraced in one university’s practice and not the other’s.
Date of Award23 Jan 2019
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Bristol
SupervisorFrances Giampapa (Supervisor) & Roger Dale (Supervisor)

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