Barriers to Student Engagement: Why Don't University Students Engage?


  • Ruth Crabtree Sheffield Hallam University


Student engagement (SE) is considered a ‘hot topic’ in many universities and extensive resources are placed on strategies to encourage students to participate in both academic and non-academic activities.  However, many initiatives do not produce the intended aims, resulting in wasteful policies that do not enhance the student experience.  Understanding the barriers that prevent students from participating in engagement is fundamental to ensure resources are used effectively for the benefit of all students.

This study investigates engagement within higher education (HE) focusing on student opinions beyond academic activities.  Focus groups were undertaken (n=21) to investigate the role of students with regards SE and barriers that stopped students from engagement within HE.       

Results revealed that students agreed they have a role in engagement including responsibility to be pro-active and help co-create.  The barriers to engagement were many including: transitioning; financial; cultural issues; and staff buy-in.  Management implications suggested the need for senior leadership involvement with SE and a greater understanding of the student population.


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How to Cite

Crabtree, R. (2023). Barriers to Student Engagement: Why Don’t University Students Engage?. Student Engagement in Higher Education Journal, 4(3), 28–47. Retrieved from