Discursive Construction of Contract Cheating and Degradation of Higher Education: Comments on The Daily Mail Online


  • Jasper Roe James Cook University Singapore




contract cheating, United Kingdom, media, discourse analysis, sociology of knowledge approach to discourse


Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, more attention has been paid to practices of academic integrity in higher education institutions (HEIs). Part of this focus has been on contract cheating, which involves the outsourcing of assessments to third parties. There is little research on how cases of contract cheating are represented by journalists in the media and how readers interact and exchange comments regarding this subject. In this article, I surveyed the online section of the UK's most popular news brand, The Daily Mail, and commentary from readers. Through The Daily Mail's online database, I compiled a corpus of 983 comments written in response to articles regarding contract cheating in the United Kingdom. The corpus was analyzed using techniques grounded in the sociology of knowledge approach to discourse (KELLER, 2005). I found that there are repetitive practices which structure common patterns of comment and response, including overlapping discourses of populist orientation, othering of international and overseas students, self-positioning as expert, and other-positioning of current students as lacking integrity and moral strength. These themes relate to strategies to negotiate the apportionment of blame for contract cheating to historical political governance, generational difference, and societal degradation.


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Author Biography

Jasper Roe, James Cook University Singapore

Dr. Jasper ROE is the head of Department at James Cook University Singapore's Language School. He holds a PhD in social sciences from University of Valencia and a master of arts from Uppsala University, Sweden. Jasper is a fellow of the Higher Education Academy (UK) and holds research interests in sociology, anthropology, linguistics, and education.


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How to Cite

Roe, J. (2023). Discursive Construction of Contract Cheating and Degradation of Higher Education: Comments on The Daily Mail Online. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 24(2). https://doi.org/10.17169/fqs-24.2.4000