Student engagement: rhetoric and reality | The Tertiary Education Research Database | Just me |

Recently, there has been much interest in higher education literature and policy on the concepts of student engagement and disengagement. While most academic writings recognise the significance of student engagement, they have tended to concentrate on it in relation to academic activities. Increasingly, universities are 'cascading' down the need to improve student engagement to schools and ultimately to individual academics. This article asserts that ideas about student engagement in the university context are often fragmented, contradictory and confused. Even the meaning of the term 'student engagement' is uncertain. Further, while government and universities urge attention to student engagement, many of their actions, it may be argued, have contributed to greater student disengagement. Relying on the available literature, we argue that the student experience as a whole is the key to engagement and, thus, efforts to re-engage students cannot be successful until a 'whole-of-university' approach is adopted.