Is student loan consolidation the same as refinancing student loans?

YES! It is the same, i say this because the appeal of doing either one of those are going to be the same "paying your student loan."

Refinancing student loans will take advantage of a better interest rate and consolidating your loans 'lumps' all of them into one. Instead of having several loans with different bills, in consolidation you only have one bill. When you consolidate student loan you are refinancing it but you can refinance without consolidating.
A student loan consolidation combines all of your federal student loans into one loan with one monthly payment. The interest rate is a weighted average of the interest rates on each individual loan. With a consolidation, you are not reducing your rate, but rather just simplifying your bill-paying process. You can consolidate your loans in just 30 minutes on StudentLoans.gov. A student loan refinance, on the other hand, is where a private lender combines your student loans and gives you a new, hopefully lower, interest rate. If your credit is good and your interest rate is lowered, you will save money with a refinance. A refinance can also combine all of your loans, not just your federal loans. Keep in mind, though, that with refinancing you will lose the option for student loan forgiveness programs. To start the process of refinancing, you should compare different private lenders.