This paper critically examines the civic engagement agenda in higher education, asking who or what is to be ‘engaged’ and how this relates to understandings of the ‘civic’ and citizenship. ‘Engagement’ is an increasingly important priority within higher education, but the term is used to refer to a confusing array of notions and agendas. The paper explores some of the different notions of engagement that have become prominent in higher education, situating these notions in the context of wider debates about ‘scholarships’, students, curriculum, community and technology. The discussion contextualises the development of civic engagement within a broader agenda for higher education policy, underpinned by three developments – the rise of ‘civil society’ generally, attempts to rearticulate scholarship(s) within higher education, and the development of ‘open’ sources and communities of learning enabled by digital technologies. On the one hand, the trend for engagement may be interpreted as democratizing and educationally desirable. Engaged scholarship makes academic knowledge more relevant, accessible and beneficial to society. It also makes and maintains spaces for a variety of educational purposes in the face of an increasingly controlled, monolithic and marketized educational culture. On the other hand, civic engagement can be situated within a wider context where citizenship itself has become marketized from within, performing citizenism through the co-optation of civil society and the managed reconfiguration of students and academics as ‘prosumers’.