In recent years, questions about the purpose of higher education (HE) have come to the fore as HE tuition fees have escalated both in the UK and internationally. The extent to which universities provide students with opportunities for developing skills needed not only for future employment but participation in civic life has become an important contemporary issue. Drawing on interviews with 29 graduates from three distinct types of UK higher education institutions (HEIs) ('elite,' 'old' and 'new'), the paper explores the extent to which the pedagogical experiences provided by these different institutions offer students the sorts of experiences and skills needed for later civic participation. Our analyses suggest that the pedagogical arrangements in these institutions are highly differentiated and provide varying opportunities for developing civic skills. Whilst this potentially has significant implications for the cultivation of students' civic skills and participation in civil society, we argue that civic participation is not so much determined by pedagogic or disciplinary cultures but is located on the intersection of ranging personal and social circumstances and pedagogic experiences.