© 2017

Student Engagement in Neoliberal Times

Theories and Practices for Learning and Teaching in Higher Education


Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xvii
  2. Exploring Mainstream Views of Student Engagement

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 1-1
    2. Nick Zepke
      Pages 3-19
  3. Questioning the Mainstream View

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 55-55
    2. Nick Zepke
      Pages 57-75
  4. Student Engagement Beyond the Mainstream

  5. Back Matter
    Pages 217-234

About this book


This book investigates origins, meanings, uses and effects of student engagement in higher education, and addresses three core questions: (1) Why is student engagement so visible in higher education today? (2) What are its dominant characteristics? (3) What is missing in the popular view of student engagement? These questions pave the way for a fresh approach to student engagement.  

The book argues that an elective affinity between student engagement and policies embedded in neoliberalism, the dominant ideology of the early 21st century, enables student engagement to transcend diverse intellectual and practice contexts. This affinity encourages quality learning and teaching that enables student to succeed in their studies and future careers.  

The book shows that focusing on neoliberal objectives for learning and teaching limits the potential of student engagement in higher education. This conclusion leads to a critical and practical social-ecological perspective that approaches engagement more as a pathway to social justice than as a list of techniques. 

This book is a work of critical scholarship backed by empirical research. It questions accepted theories and practices and offers fresh insights into student engagement in higher education, including how engagement could promote social justice.  


Active citizenship Civic engagement Community engagement Disengagement Elective affinity Human capital orientation Individual well-being Learning partnerships Patterns of engagement Quality learning in higher education Quality teaching in higher education Social well-being Student engagement as meta-construct Student engagement frameworks Student engagement practice Student engagement theory Student participation Student success Subjective well-being Variables of engagement

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of EducationMassey University ManawatuPalmerston NorthNew Zealand

About the authors

Nick Zepke is a recently retired Associate Professor in adult education in the Institute of Education at Massey University in New Zealand. He has taught, researches and publishes in three interrelated areas: learner centred teaching, education policy studies, and lifelong and lifewide education. He has published six books, more than 100 articles in respected international and local journals, and numerous commissioned reports in these areas. Since 2009 his research has focused on student engagement in higher education. He has published 19 articles and book chapters in the area.

Bibliographic information

  • Book Title Student Engagement in Neoliberal Times
  • Book Subtitle Theories and Practices for Learning and Teaching in Higher Education
  • Authors Nick Zepke
  • DOI
  • Copyright Information Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2017
  • Publisher Name Springer, Singapore
  • eBook Packages Education Education (R0)
  • Hardcover ISBN 978-981-10-3198-4
  • Softcover ISBN 978-981-10-9815-4
  • eBook ISBN 978-981-10-3200-4
  • Edition Number 1
  • Number of Pages XVII, 234
  • Number of Illustrations 0 b/w illustrations, 0 illustrations in colour
  • Topics Higher Education
    Educational Policy and Politics
    Sociology of Education
  • Buy this book on publisher's site
Industry Sectors
Finance, Business & Banking


“This book is beneficial in that it provides alternative directions for developing brand-new student engagement from critical and emancipatory perspectives. If you are devoted to developing your own engagement pedagogy far away from the influence of the elective affinity, keen on critical analyses in education, or seek a path to achieve a more just society, then this book is meant for you.” (Si-Yao Wang and Ya-Ting Huang, Higher Education, Vol. 78, 2019)