Linking Academia and Community: Evidence from Student-Community Engagement in Ghana
Academic institutions have come under criticism for not living up to their research expectations. In response, the University for Development Studies (UDS) in Ghana runs a student-community engagement programme termed the Third Trimester Field Practical Programme (TTFPP), where students stay in and research with rural communities on development issues as part of their academic work. This paper analyses communities and students’ assessment of the TTFPP in relation to its core objectives. Data were obtained from 35 communities and 315 students during the 2009/2010 and 2010/2011 TTFPP sessions in the Upper West Region, using key informant interviews, focus group discussions and participant observation. The study established that the TTFPP is beneficial to communities and students and has the potential of being an effective vehicle for academia-community linkage. However, the preliminary field preparation prior to the student-community engagement was unsatisfactory and a weakness on the engagement. Nonetheless, communities are willing to host and work with students. Therefore, this paper argues that while this student-community engagement is justified, more needs to be done to ensure effective and efficient academia-community linkage. There is more to academia-community engagement than sending students out to field. This paper calls for a re-examination of the structure and content of the TTFPP.
Keywords: Community-based Research, Student-Community Engagement, Third Trimester Field Practical Program, University for Development Studies, Ghana
© 2018 The authors.
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