Academic interaction with social partners in the case from the University of Limpopo

  • Marota Aphane
  • Oliver Mtapuri
  • Chris Burman University of Limpopo
  • Naftali Mollel


The purpose of this article is to describe the different dimensions of the community- university
interactions that emanated from a Community Engagement Audit which was undertaken at the
University of Limpopo (UL) in 2014. The Audit methodology followed a quantitative survey
research approach. A sample of 278, out of a population of 559 academic staff at UL that included
196 with PhDs and 363 without PhDs, participated in the study. SPSS was used to compute factor
analysis. The results indicated the dominant partners that faculties interact with across the spheres
of engaged scholarship were multi-national companies, small, medium and micro-enterprises,
national regulatory and advisory and sectorial organisations. The types of relationship with external
social actors were contract research, continuing education and collaborative research and
development projects. Channels of information were popular publications, public conferences,
seminars or workshops, oral or written testimony or advice prominent. The outputs were new or
improved products/processes, scientific discoveries and community infrastructure and facilities.
The outcomes and benefits were regional development, improved quality of life for individuals and
communities and research focus and research projects, theoretical and methodological development
in an academic field, academic and institutional reputation. The main constrains experienced during
engagement are lack of academic resources and institutional support and relationships with external
social partners. The results provide guiding parameters to improve the scale and reach of CE at the
UL and a snapshot of the architecture and terrain of engaged scholarship at a rural-based HEI in
South Africa.

Research Articles