The University of Winchester is leading the way in the field of Student Engagement in Higher Education.

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About us

The Centre for Student Engagement provides services for and research into the field of Student Engagement in Higher Education, in which the University of Winchester is leading the sector and international practice.

Student Engagement has come to mean many things to many people and institutions. It has been linked to student participation, involvement, commitment, effort and motivation; to Student Unions and to academic study; to developing new relationships between staff and students. Student Engagement is a growing academic discipline relating to practices such as student engagement in university processes including: student representation, student voice, co-design, students as partners and peer support, and research areas such as students’ sense of belonging, student development and enhancing students’ experiences.

This centre is therefore dedicated to helping to improve and facilitate good practice to ensure a better experience for students studying at the University of Winchester, and to be able to share our practice across Higher Education institutions nationally and internationally.

Who we are and what we do

Meet the team

Core Team

Tom Lowe, Head of Student Engagement and Employability & Director of the Centre for Student Engagement

Main research interests:

  • Practicalities of student engagement schemes in Higher Education
  • Student development in Higher Education
  • Facilitating a sense of belonging in Higher Education

Find out more about Tom

Maisha Islam, Student Engagement Research and Projects Officer

Main research interests:

  • BAME student experience and student voice
  • Religious student experience and student voice
  • Equality and diversity in Student Engagement practice

Find out more about Maisha

Maria Moxey, Teaching Fellow in Student Engagement

Main research interests:

  • The value of sport as a form of student engagement at University
  • Sport, identity & a sense of belonging
  • Subcultural sport & gender identity

Email Maria

Visiting Fellows

Dr Catherine Bovill, Senior Lecturer in Student Engagement, University of Edinburgh

Prof Colin Bryson, Director of Combined Honours Centre, Newcastle University

Prof Mike Neary, Emeritus Professor of Sociology, University of Lincoln

Dr Jill LeBihan, Head of Student Engagement, Sheffield Hallam University


Savannah King, Communications and Content Development Manager

Main research interests:

  • Experiences of international students and alumni
  • Partnership – between students and institution, alumni and institution and students and alumni
  • The role of communications in student engagement, satisfaction, attainment, retention and pride

Email Savannah

Cassie Lowe, Learning and Teaching Enhancement Officer

Main research interests:

  • Undergraduate Research
  • Students as Partners
  • Student Voice

Find out more about Cassie

Tiffany Burnett, Student Engagement Manager at Winchester Student Union

Main research interests:

  • Student engagement beyond the curriculum
  • Student voice in democracy and representation
  • Student Union engagement with underrepresented student groups

Email Tiffany

Shelley Hitchin, Faculty Employability Advisor (Arts)

Main research interests:

  • Student Engagement in higher education - approaches and practices
  • Careers and employability (learning and teaching, collaboration and partnership)
  • Creativity and digital skills

Email Shelley

Charlotte Purkis, Programme Leader Postgraduate Certificate in Research Skills/Principal Lecturer in Drama

Main research interests:

  • Auto-ethnography and the student voice shaping the future of the creative arts disciplines
  • How students can learn to teach themselves
  • Student participation as classroom leaders

Find out more about Charlotte

Maisie James, Health & Safety Administrative Assistant

Main research interests:

  • Somatic Movement Therapy
  • Integration of somatic practice into higher dance education
  • Body philosophy and discourse

Email Maisie

Dr Craig Johnston, Senior Lecturer in Health, Community & Social Care Studies

Main research interests:

  • Working-class students' negotiations of education
  • Youth exclusion and marginalisation
  • Improving student engagement

Find out more about Craig

Juliet Winter, Senior Researcher in Learning & Teaching Development and Associate Lecturer in American Studies

Main research interests:

  • Assessment and Feedback Design and Enhancement
  • Student Engagement in the Curriculum (notably through developing approaches to the UK Engagement Survey and evaluating the impact of Peer-Assisted Learning)
  • Examining Constructs of Racial and Gendered Identity (doctoral research) and Decolonising Practice

Find out more about Juliet

Study with us: Master's in Student Engagement in Higher Education

The postgraduate Student Engagement in Higher Education course offers an opportunity to learn from sector experts from Winchester’s world leading practice and recently established Centre for Student Engagement with internally recognised Visiting Fellows. Students are provided with the opportunity to develop an applicable knowledge and critical understanding of theory and practice surrounding Student Engagement to be equipped to become a more applicable practitioner in diverse settings.

Find out more about the Master's in Student Engagement in Higher Education course

The ‘Get Involved’ Project: a signposting service for student opportunities

The ‘Get Involved’ signposting service brings together all of the opportunities available to students at Winchester in a single accessible platform. With over 140 opportunities to dive into, this online service provides students with a ‘one-stop-shop’ to explore sports teams, extra-curricular activities and campus employment by browsing at leisure to increase accessibility for students at Winchester.

To find out more about student opportunities available at Winchester, you can browse through the Get Involved list.

The REACT (Realising Engagement through Active Culture Transformation) Programme

The REACT programme was a £304,000 catalyst-funded project from the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) designed to make a significant impact on student engagement and the student experience in the Higher Education (HE) sector in England and Wales over a two-year period, from July 2015 to July 2017. The focus was on the engagement of so-called ‘hard to reach’ students.

The programme comprised:

  • Investigation into the term ‘hard to reach’ and a consideration of which students are characterised in this way;
  • A formal research project looking at links between student engagement, retention and attainment;
  • A development programme as a collaboration between fifteen UK universities.

For more information, visit the REACT website.


Our services: tap into our expertise

The Centre for Student Engagement provides services for and research into the field of Student Engagement in Higher Education, building upon their sector-leading practice both nationally and internationally. The centre offers both academic and practical support to colleagues wishing to enhance their students’ experiences and increase their levels of engagement and development.

Email for any queries or more information.

BOOK: A Handbook for Student Engagement in Higher Education: Theory into Practice

Published in 2020, A Handbook for Student Engagement in Higher Education: Theory into Practice by Tom Lowe and Yaz El-Hakim draws together scholarship and established practice in a sector-leading volume which unpacks the concept of student engagement. The book provides ideas and examples alongside compelling theory- and research-based evidence to offer a thorough and innovative exploration of how students and staff can work together to genuinely transform the higher education learning experience.

Providing readers with evidence from successfully embedded schemes, the book uses case studies and practical, workable examples from a variety of international institutions. With the insight of world-leading contributors, it showcases what good practice looks like in higher education institutions across the globe. Simultaneously collating a wealth of contemporary research, this book creates vivid connections between theories and student engagement in higher education, with chapter topics including:

  • Creating relationships between students, staff and universities
  • Offering non-traditional students extracurricular opportunities
  • Taking a students-as-partners approach
  • Critically reflecting on identities, particularities and relationships
  • The future of student engagement

In a fast-developing and significantly shifting area, this book is essential reading for Higher Education managers and those working directly in the field of student engagement.

Find out more about A Handbook for Student Engagement in Higher Education: Theory into Practice.

REPORT: The 'Asian' student experience and disaggregating Winchester’s BAME degree-awarding gap

This report by the CSE's Maisha Islam (lead researcher and report author) showcases one aspect of the University of Winchester’s efforts to closing gaps in access, success and progression for a particular student demographic. Having noted a large degree-awarding gap between UK-domiciled White and 'Asian' students, this report collates the findings of a research project aimed at better understanding the university experiences of our “Asian” students to begin understanding this large disparity. The research importantly highlights the significance for universities to disaggregate between and amongst their “BAME” students – offering a critique to the sector’s over-reliance of the term “BAME” to capture an experience which is inherently heterogenous and therefore requires targeted measures for effective redressal.

Noting a dearth of literature on the experiences of 'Asian' students, specifically in Higher Education, the report highlights findings in line with existing literature related to BAME student experience. However, where this experience is largely portrayed through the lens of Black student experience, notable differences were uncovered, for example through 'Asian' students’ intersectional identities (e.g. religion was noted to be an important part of this) and through a deep commitment to the family unit where students may inadvertently take on heavy caring responsibilities.

The report provides a comprehensive set of recommendations for the University of Winchester and Winchester Student Union whilst also welcoming further research into 'Asian' students’ experiences.

Access the full report of our research into 'Asian' student experience and disaggregating Winchester’s BAME degree-awarding gap.

For more information about the research project, contact Maisha Islam.

Recent research: Muslim students' engagement in Higher Education

This research project was conducted by the Centre for Student Engagement in partnership with Dr Gary Jones, Senior Lecturer in Sociology, to expand the institutional understanding and knowledge surrounding sense of belonging and student experiences of Muslim students at Winchester. The number of Muslim students entering Higher Education is slowly rising, with the University of Winchester following this trend. Currently, there are an estimated 330,000 Muslim students in HE and FE in the UK; this number is expected to grow, especially in terms of young Muslim women.

Little is known about Muslim students’ HE experiences, with limited published reports surrounding religious student groups and wider BAME research identifying that universities are still struggling to identify tangible steps to enhance BAME attainment and retention. The Centre for Student Engagement interviewed 20% of Winchester’s Muslim student population to investigate their sense of belonging, and beyond curriculum engagement with wider activities at the institution.

For more information on this study, you can read the publication of Muslim students' engagement in Higher Education or email Maisha Islam for updates on the project.

A follow up research project, led by Maisha Islam, sought to understand these experiences beyond Winchester. Working in partnership with London Metropolitan University and Newman University, the project investigated the utility of the term ‘satisfied settling’ and whether students were settling for a less than university experience.

For more information on this study, you can read the publication of Muslim student voice and experience in Higher Education.

CSE Conferences

Forthcoming conference: Post-Sabb-Success Conference: Careers in Higher Education 5 April 2022

The Centre for Student Engagement is delighted to announce an exciting and innovative conference on careers in Higher Education.

Students’ Union leaders have a unique role working across institutions, which can lead to highly successful careers. Students’ Union staff at sabbatical officer, administrative and coordinator level are particularly encouraged to attend this one-day event.

This conference will draw on guest speakers who all began their careers at Students’ Unions; they will speak about their journeys and give advice to delegates on their options beyond their current role.

With a bespoke employability workshop and various opportunities for networking, this in-person conference at Winchester is the perfect opportunity for you to start considering your next steps – whether that is staying in the Students’ Union or trying your hand at learning and teaching.

Key dates

  • Conference registration opens – 1 March 2022 and closes on 28 March 2022
  • Pre-conference networking event (PM) – 4 April 2022
  • Conference (with post-conference drinks reception) – 5 April 2022

Confirmed speakers/sessions

Opening keynote:

Dominic Smithies, Influencing and Advocacy Lead at Student Minds)

Reflecting on your strengths and skills in application and at interview:

Tom Lowe (Head of Student Engagement of Employability, University of Winchester)

Liz George (Careers Service Manager, University of Winchester)

Higher Education Policy and Organisations:

Alex Bols (Deputy Chief Executive, GuildHE)

Staying in Students’ Union:

Cassie Agbehenu (Director of Impact and Influence, Bristol Students’ Union)

Learning, Teaching and Academic Development:

Jelena Matic (Educational Developer, Nottingham Trent University)

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion:

Ruqia Osman (Black Student Support Coordinator, SOAS University of London)

Communications, Recruitment and Marketing:

Savannah King (Communications and Content Development Manager, University of Winchester)

Student Support and Success:

Shakira Martin (Head of Student Experience, Rose Bruford College)


Registration will open on 1 March and closes on 28 March.

Conference fee: Delegate rate £80 + VAT (£96). 

The conference fee includes refreshments upon arrival, mid-morning refreshments and a buffet lunch. Please be sure to list any dietary requirements in your booking form.

Please use this link to register your place for the conference.

Contact us

If you have any queries, please contact us at

Recent conference: Generation Z in Higher Education Conference 2021

On Wednesday 9 June 2021, the Centre for Student Engagement alongside the University and Winchester Student Union were delighted to welcome over 100 colleagues from around the sector to this conference dedicated to learning all about the new generation of students entering UK higher education.

Featuring two keynotes and over 20 papers, our speakers contextualised Generation Z students’ educational journeys and synthesised the array of research, practice and considerations about Generation Z in order to support their holistic experiences.
Conference themes focussed upon:

  • Theme 1 – The Educational Learner Journey of Generation Z (pre HE)
  • Theme 2 – Pedagogical Practice for and with Generation Z
  • Theme 3 – Understanding Generation Z: Beliefs, Motivations and Student Diversity
  • Theme 4 – Careers and Future Aspirations of Generation Z

Access recordings of the opening and closing keynotes, as well as copies of speaker presentations.