Past Event details

The implications of the student engagement agenda for student freedom

Tuesday, 24 April 2018


1.      The student Engagement Agenda: a critical introduction, Michael Tomlinson

This talk will introduce the theme of the seminar and will explore some of the emerging critical perspectives on the student engagement movement. These mainly concern the ways in which the SE policy agenda is positioned within a new performative institutional climate which endorses a short-term notion of student-centredness based on largely ‘positive’ and satisfiable learning experience. These are not necessarily congruent with a broader conception of student freedom. It will relate some of these issues to current market conditions in English HE pertaining to the commodification of learning and the rise of the student-consumer movement.

2.      Should we panic about disengagement?, Amanda Fulford

Alongside the high profile that student engagement has in the contemporary university, there has also been a rise in measures to tackle dis-engagement. Seen as pathologised conduct, or failure of performance requiring the university’s intervention, disengagement is addressed through a whole range of approaches, with the aim of reducing, or eliminating it. This raises questions about how students should be engaged in their higher education, and if there is any educational value in the idea of disengagement as an expression of student freedom – the active voicing of what students will, and will not, consent to in their education.

3.       Compulsion and Student Freedom, Alexis Gibbs

Perceptions of a ‘student engagement agenda’ are often negatively configured on account of its insistence upon compulsory attendance and participation. These quantifiables do not really do justice to the term ‘engagement’ in and of itself, or to the various initiatives that conceptualise it less as compulsion and more as commitment. If academic freedom is a matter not just of asserting one’s right to express oneself (or not), but becoming responsible for one’s expression, then I will argue that students cannot be said to truly experience academic freedom without having committed themselves to positions for which they are prepared to hold themselves responsible, i.e. ‘engaged’.


The Speakers:

Michael Tomlinson is an Associate Professor at Southampton Education School, University of Southampton. His interests are in the sociology of education and work with more specific interests in the HE-labour market interplay and graduate employability. He also has related interests in higher education policy and the impacts of marketisation on institutions and students.

Amanda Fulford is Reader in Philosophy of Education at Leeds Trinity University in the UK. Her publications in the field of philosophy of education have addressed issues relating to policy discourses in higher education, including student satisfaction, the student experience, and employability. She also writes on public and community philosophy as forms of education.

Alexis Gibbs is Senior Lecturer in Education Studies at the University of Winchester. He wrote his PhD thesis on the subject of academic freedom as a key issue in international higher education development, and since published on the question of whether academic freedom is to be considered more a right or responsibility. His current research is in film as an educational resource in higher education pedagogy. 

Network: Academic Practice
Date(s): Tuesday, 24 April 2018
Times: 11:30 - 15:30
Location: SRHE, 73 Collier St, London N1 9BE
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Event Files
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Compulsion and student freedom
Alexis Gibbs
Should we panic about student disengagement?
Amanda Fulford
The Student Engagement Agenda: a critical introduction
Michael Tomlinson
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