Doctoral Dissertations

Orcid ID

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Communication and Information

Major Professor

Sally McMillan

Committee Members

Catherine Luther, Courtney Childers, Elizabeth Johnson


During 2015, the government of Bangladesh imposed a value-added tax (VAT) on private university education in order to expand the purview of revenue collection. Fearing this additional hike in the tuition fees, thousands of mostly middle-class students protested that this would add to the already existing burden on their families in supporting their education. The country’s socioeconomic backdrop of culture and the economic scenario was such where the parents had to bear a lot for their children’s expenses for a long time until the children became independent. On top of such already overpriced expenses, the question of bearing VAT became exorbitant for the families. Therefore, the question of this added cost became a burning issue that the student activists chose to fight. The students vowed to continue peaceful protests and demonstrations until their demands were met. Activism found a new dimension with digital and social media. A literature review was conducted to explore the existing research regarding the issue in question and to identify any research gaps.When looking at the recent developments in the scenario of fundamental freedom, the countries once thought as invulnerable to authoritarian temptations are now imposing restrictions on basic rights and autonomy. Thanks to digital media and advancements in technology, the conversation on the internet, especially via social media, changed the mode of public conversation for good. This research incorporated the Southeast Asian perspective of activism in creating a desirable change in public opinion and the resultant policy reform as the after-effect of widespread dissension. This research revolved around starting with answering research questions like how the #NoVATonEducation campaign developed over time and then presents an overview of the media communication tools that were used in the campaign, followed by a focus on the role of social media.

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