Student Engagement has become a 'must do, must account for' feature of higher education, and it has become inextricably linked with the consumerist, customer-focused ethos that is now prevalent in higher education. As the burden of the cost of higher education shifts increasingly from the state to the student there are escalating tensions and strains in the relationship between students, institutions, and those who provide and support learning and teaching.
This presentation offers a critique of some of the issues around student engagement. In particular, it describes the outcomes of ENGAGE!, an intensive two-day ‘away-day’ for 30 student representatives that was organised by the UK’s Higher Education Academy Subject Centres for Archaeology and Classics, Materials Science, and Performing Arts in partnership with the National Union of Students. ENGAGE! explored the perceptions, practices and policies of student engagement within and across a range of disciplines and institutions. It demonstrated that the 'student as consumer' label fails in many respects to describe the complex motivations and experiences that students have with respect to higher education. Students themselves tend to resent and reject the ‘consumer’ label, particularly in regard to the pedagogic aspects of their higher education experience, preferring notions of partnership or participation in which their learning experiences are ‘done with’ rather than ‘done to’ them.
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