Gatekeeping v. marketing: English language proficiency as a university admission requirement in Australia

Agnes Bodis*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


In Australian higher education, there is a tension between international students’ English language proficiency (ELP) seen as inadequate, thus prompting the need for firm gatekeeping for quality control, and on the other hand, the financial dependence on international student revenues, and therefore, striving to attract international applicants. Against this backdrop, this paper examines the way discursive forces interact in the context of ELP as an admission requirement. This paper analyses ELP admission requirements webpages of Australian universities, using Multimodal Critical Discourse Analysis. It finds that the textual and visual data have distinct messages enabled by the linguistic features of the legal discourse and the neoliberal marketing discourse, respectively. Their combination creates a representation of ELP as a requirement for the idealized student lifestyle in Australia. This strengthens the monolingual mindset operating in Australian education by referencing the authority of legislation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1578-1592
Number of pages15
JournalHigher Education Research & Development
Issue number7
Early online date20 Feb 2023
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • international education
  • university admission requirement
  • English language proficiency
  • the monolingual mindset


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