Reframing 'Hard to Reach' Student Engagement


  • Hannah Goddard The Student Engagement Partnership



What does it really mean when we say a student or student group is ‘hard to reach’? This piece aims to question this way of phrasing student engagement, by challenging the assumptions inherent within it. Using learning from The Student Engagement Partnership’s ‘Student Engagement in the Context of Commuter Students’ (Thomas and Jones, 2017), this piece argues that using ‘hard to reach’ to define a group of students serves to absolve practitioners of their responsibility towards engaging these groups. In addition it argues that reframing engagement around spheres and levels enables a more nuanced understanding of students in their context.

Author Biography

Hannah Goddard, The Student Engagement Partnership

The Student Engagement Partnership champions and develops student engagement practice in the English higher education sector. Through our work, we provide expertise and insight in order to equip student engagement practitioners and decision-makers with the knowledge and skills they need to make a success of student engagement in their context.


Department for Education (2016-17) Higher Education and Research Bill. Available at: (Accessed: 31 May 2017).

Foucault, M. (2003) ‘So is it important to think?’ In: Rabinow, P. and Rose, B. (eds.) The Essential Foucault. New York: The New Press, 170-173.

Morgan, John (27 April 2017) ‘Higher Education and Research Bill Passed by UK Parliament’. Times Higher Education. Available at: (Accessed: 31 May 2017).

Thomas, Liz and Jones, Robert for The Student Engagement Partnership (2017). Student Engagement in the Context of Commuter Students. Available at: (Accessed: 17 March 2017).






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