Institutional Commitment to Community Engagement: A Case Study of Makerere University

Henry Mugabi


Although the earliest medieval universities began as teaching-only institutions, the university as an institution has since experienced revolutions in the way its functions are conceived. Currently, the university embraces three functions: teaching, research and community engagement. Although the teaching and research functions of the university are much more established than its third function, the importance of community engagement is acknowledged in the academic literature and, to varying degrees, by governments, higher education agencies and universities. For example, a review of the mission statements of Ugandan universities shows that, besides teaching and research, the universities aspire to contribute to the socio-economic transformation of society. Unfortunately, such assertions reveal little about the actual commitment of the universities to community engagement because there is a dearth of literature about community engagement at African universities. Accordingly, the purpose of this paper is to examine the institutional commitment of Ugandan universities to community engagement. However, the discussion will focus on a single university, Makerere University. Data was generated through document reviews and qualitative semi-structured interviews. The review shows that the university (1) recognises community engagement as one of its core functions; (2) has integrated some aspects of community engagement into its curriculum and policies; and (3) has organisational structures and personnel to organise and provide community related activities and services. Nonetheless, community related activities remain largely unsupported and the contributions of the faculty to community engagement are insufficiently rewarded.

Key words: Higher education; institutional commitment; community engagement; Uganda; Makerere University

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International Journal of Higher Education
ISSN 1927-6044 (Print) ISSN 1927-6052 (Online) Email:

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