Rationale, Context & Role


Community interaction (CI) as a core function of the university exists to nurture and manage partnerships with communities, thereby facilitating cooperation between communities and the university, and providing the means whereby both parties can actively discover knowledge, teach, and learn from each other.

It is envisaged that this will contribute to an environment where student learning is enriched and research relevance is enhanced. It supports the institutional commitments to reciprocity, redress, development and transformation.


The macro context in which the CI activities take place is higher education (HE) frameworks on the global, national and institutional level as well as local, regional, national and international development agendas:

In a global HE context, the University adopts the “scholarship of engagement”   (Boyer, 1990) as a model to become an engaged institution. According to this expanded view, scholarship is articulated as four overlapping functions: discovery of all forms of knowledge; integration (connections across disciplines); application as dialogue between theory and practice; and teaching.

On a national HE level the University acknowledges and this policy is aligned to the national government policy frameworks as articulated in the White Paper on Higher Education (1997), the quality assurance guidelines in the HEQC documents* and the specific guidelines pertaining to community engagement and service-learning**.

On an institutional level the Mission Statement and the Strategic Framework of the University lay the foundation for the interdependence and integration of the three core functions of the University, i.e. teaching and learning, research and CI. Vision 2012 outlines five main foci for the University of which the focus that states that the University “is an active role-player in the development of the South African society” mandates the core function of CI.


In the formulation of the CI policy, its relevance to the teaching and learning and research policies of the University is acknowledged.

In relation to development agendas, the CI policy guides the University’s actions as:

  • an active role player in civil society

  • an important partner of industry

  • a local role player in local government Integrated Development Planning;

  • a provincial role player in the Provincial Development Strategy;

  • a national role player in National Development Strategies;

  • an international role player in terms of key Development Theme*** emanating from the Millennium Development Goals.

* Institutional Audit Framework & Institutional Audit Criteria, HEQC, June 2004; Criteria for Programme Accreditation, HEQC, Nov 2004; Founding Document, HEQC, 2001

** A Good Practice Guide and Self-evaluation Instruments for Managing the Quality of Service-Learning (2006)

*** The combating of pandemic poverty; the promotion of human security (from food security to peace initiatives); the maintenance and promotion of human dignity; the promotion of democracy; and the promotion and maintenance of environmental sustainability.