Student engagement and voice in higher education: students’ perceptions


  • Xiaomei Sun The University of Edinburgh
  • Deborah Holt The University of Edinburgh



student engagement, student voice, higher education, university-student dialogue


There has been intense debate about student engagement and student voice in institutions of higher education in the past decade or so. Most of the discussion has been theoretical or based on a cause-and-effect research design. With the aim of gathering student perspectives on student voice and its related mechanisms, this study collected the voice of 13 students, the majority of whom were international students, from one UK university. Participants include undergraduate (n=1), postgraduate taught (n=7), and PhD (n=5) students who voluntarily agreed to have an online interview with the researcher, a PhD intern of the Student Voice team. Findings indicate that participants have an overall positive and supportive view of student voice mechanisms at this institution, although some understandings are not adequate or accurate. Participants’ attitudes towards some commonly used communication channels indicate that they prioritise an interactive and dynamic tool to initiate dialogue with the university. Suggestions are put forward for managerial strategies for a sustainable and inclusive student voice mechanism. 

Author Biographies

Xiaomei Sun, The University of Edinburgh

Xiaomei Sun is an associate tutor at the University of Edinburgh where she teaches research methods and language education courses. Her research interests include extensive reading in L2, children’s literature, English teacher training and development. Her recent research appears in TESOL Journal, The Language Learning Journal, and Innovation in Language Learning and Teaching.

Deborah Holt, The University of Edinburgh

Deborah Holt is Lecturer in Health and Wellbeing and Mental Health Promotion at the University of Edinburgh. Her recent publications include the books Promoting Positive Mental Health in the Primary School and Metacognition in the Primary Classroom, both published by Routledge.


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How to Cite

Sun, X. and Holt, D. (2022) “Student engagement and voice in higher education: students’ perceptions”, Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education, (23). doi: 10.47408/jldhe.vi23.838.