The evaluation of Japanese universities through online English president messages
This research thesis examines Japanese university online messages written by university presidents (hereafter ‘president messages’). The dataset comprises four English-language messages selected from elite institutions within the Top Global Project (a project of the Japanese Government that identifies the ‘top’ universities in Japan), and organised according to QS University Ranking: 1. University of Tokyo, 2. Kyoto University, 3. Hokkaido University, and 4. University of Tsukuba. The president messages encapsulate the universities’ English-language online presence, and face, to the international community. The appraisal resource of ATTITUDE (Martin & White, 2005) from Systemic Functional Linguistics (SFL) is used to analyse the dataset in order to understand how the messages function in the Japanese social context. The three types of ATTITUDE are incorporated in this study: judgement to assess behavioural standards; appreciation to determine item values; and affect which are emotional reactions. The dataset predominantly exhibits judgement and appreciation resources, and affect with limited frequency. The findings reveal how these elite Japanese universities are positively construed according to appraisal types within each category. While not widespread in Japanese public discourse, international concepts of innovative academia, diversity, and an international focus on contributing to the well-being of humankind beyond Japan are pervasive in the president messages. It is proposed that the messages are possibly appealing to an international audience as opposed to a Japanese audience by excluding traditional educational values in Japan. It is found that, following the discourse trends of universities worldwide, internationalisation, globalisation and marketisation discourse is evident in these Japanese universities’ president messages.