This paper examines the concept of staff-student partnerships from the perspective of academic staff. Staff-student partnerships are located within a broader policy context concerned with the enhancement of the student experience, and specifically the theme of student engagement. The principles of staff-student partnerships are examined, and the literature in the field is reviewed with a focus on the benefits of partnerships for students and institutions. The research findings are based on ten interviews conducted across a single, post-1992 university in an English city. The data from the interviews were thematically analysed within a social practice theory framework to examine the attitudes of academic staff to partnerships. The findings suggest a lack of consistency in the interpretation of partnerships amongst staff. Staff attitudes are influenced by the social practices of individuals and work groups, and these are highly context-dependent. The implication of this is that any initiative to promote staff-student partnerships on a wider scale should not adopt a uniform, ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach but must take account of social context by recognising the social practices and traditions of different groups.