The range of rationales that underpin conceptions of flexible education, and the re-making over time of the official meaning of flexibility in national education policy, have led to the point where flexibility might be found, or be required, in nearly every aspect of Australian higher education. This paper seeks to identify those rationales and the development of public policy rhetoric that have framed the development of the meaning of flexible education over time in an Australian context. By considering the intersection of theoretical and policy perspectives on flexible education with the realities of teaching and learning practice in the discipline context of engineering, this paper proposes the essential importance of individual context and agency in the making of real meaning from, and creating practical boundaries around, the otherwise tenuous definitions of flexibility often offered by institutional policy.