University engagement as interconnectedness
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African research that forms part of the Higher Education Research and Advocacy Network in Africa – HERANA – project has developed indicators to measure university-community
engagement projects, to ascertain whether their activities are connected to the strategy of the institution, are linked to external constituents in a sustainable manner, feed into teaching and generate new knowledge.
Currently, most universities globally do not collect even basic data on community engagement activities. This lack of empirical evidence leaves many stakeholders in the dark about the nature and impact of university engagement activities. Little wonder that this work is generally underfunded and oft-maligned in higher education.
And yet, university-community engagement harbours the potential to contribute to building stronger universities – in both teaching and research – and in so doing, to supporting the university’s contribution to development.