South African Journal of Higher Education

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Higher education and local communities

J Humphreys, J Conlon


This article examines some roles of higher education in relation to local communities and local economies. After first establishing the increasing significance of local economic planning, three categories of role for higher education in relation to local development are identified: the first as a stakeholder, involving direct engagement with the local economy; the second as a strategic partner and advocate for human resource development and the third, as a service provider, building intellectual capital. The article examines the proposition that the most significant contribution that a university or technikon can make to the development of a locality derives from its recruitment of students from the local community. A research model is presented whose purpose is to provide a framework for the evaluation of the local impact of higher education institutions as service providers. Finally, such local roles for HEIs are discussed specifically in the South African context with a comment on the Government's National Plan for Higher Education.

(South African Journal of Higher Education: 2003 17 (3): 66-73)
AJOL African Journals Online