Call for papers

The loss of government funding for Higher Education (HE) and steep increase in student fees in 2012 has led to accelerated change in English universities. The post-Browne review era has inaugurated intense processes of change within institutions and new practices and discourses shaping academic life on a day-to-day level. In this volatile environment, the apparently straightforward idea of ‘student engagement’ has become a multi-faceted and contested object. As well as referring to students’ involvement in their academic work and the life of the university, it also appears as a means of leveraging staff accountability for student learning outcomes, and a way of articulating demands for new forms of student inclusion.

In September, Professor Susan Wright (Aarhus) is visiting Sociology at Newcastle University and she will provide a keynote speech to open our symposium. She is an anthropologist and internationally-recognised expert on audit cultures in the neo-liberal university and the organisation of HE. Her keynote will place ‘student engagement’ within the context of recent educational reforms in England. The keynote will set up questions for the symposium to consider: what is meant by ‘student engagement’? Why does it matter so much in the rapidly changing landscape of English HE? What can it tell us about the institutional, managerial and cultural processes through which universities are responding to and shaping a new era of higher education?

The symposium aims to bring together academics, teaching and learning professionals and students to examine meanings and mobilisations of student engagement in contexts of intense organisational transformation. It will feature round-table discussions with students and academic administrators, managers and student support staff as well as academic panels. We invite paper proposals from academic researchers to take part in panel sessions throughout the day. We are particularly interested in papers that examine the following questions:

  • How is the trope of ‘student engagement’ discursively constructed and circulated?
  • What kinds of engagement does it value – and what does it make invisible?
  • What kinds of powers does the idea of student engagement have – to drive management agendas, to discipline students and academic staff? How is it reinforced or resisted?
  • How does the idea of student engagement enable different practices and narratives of good ‘teacherhood’ and ‘studenthood’?

Please send a 250 word abstract to: by 22nd June 2015 - please note extended deadline.

Registration fee £10, includes lunch and refreshments. Fee waiver and travel bursaries available for undergraduate, postgraduate and post‚Äźdoctoral delegates; please contact the organisers.