Rhodes University - the university of Makhanda, Eastern Cape

The position of universities within our society has never been simultaneously more vulnerable nor important. Globally, the purpose and value of higher education in the twenty first century, is being seriously challenged more than ever before. Locally, we are confronted with social and economic problems that continue to plague the previously excluded and marginalised in South Africa. This fact is clearly evident in the location of Rhodes University, situated, as it is, in the midst of poverty, in a town with high unemployment and in one of the poorest and most neglected provinces in the country.

This demands of us to ask the question that is currently resonating the world over: What then is the purpose of a university? And while we are attempting to answer this question, specifically for the South African context, we should be aware of the urgency to reimagine ourselves and step up, work collectively to redress the imbalances in our society

Community engagement demands of us to ask the question? What is the purpose of education generally and higher education in particular? For it is through the various forms of community engagement as demonstrated by Rhodes University, staff and students of this institution are provided with opportunities to step out of the boundaries of the institution and share their knowledge, skills and talents with others. And in doing so, learn about their own sense of being in relation to others, further develop humane qualities or virtues that may be latent, and enhance skills that will be of benefit in future employment situations.

Community engagement shifts the purpose of higher education from that of producing students for the labour market to the integral development of students, that is, emphasising the interconnection of mind, body and heart.


Our Vision

To establish & nurture community-university partnerships that contribute to sustainable community development & promote university & student social responsibility.


Our Mission
  • DEVELOPMENTAL ROLE OF UNIVERSITIES - Supporting Higher Education policy and providing a powerful platform from which the university can play its social responsibility role.
  • SUSTAINABLE COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT - Creating bonds of reciprocity and community which recognise the interdependent and interconnected relationship between people; and between people and the environment.
  • KNOWLEDGE DEMOCRACY – Promoting a reciprocal process of knowledge creation and dissemination where all who contribute to  knowledge creation are acknowledged.
  • CIVIC & SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY– Embedding and activating the civic and social responsibility of all students and staff through community engagement activities and programmes from formal volunteerism to credit bearing programmes.
  • RESPONSIVE TO SOCIAL CONTEXT - Embedding community engagement by making the university more responsive to its social context and more accessible to the community.
  • TRANSFORMATION & DEVELOPMENT - Contributing to individual transformation and sustainable human and community development in Makhanda, the Eastern Cape, and South Africa.
  • BUILDING A BODY OF KNOWLEDGE – Contributing to building a body of knowledge on community engagement through the scholarship of engagement.



Key Activities


Knowledge democracy fostered through robust, transformative, transdisciplinary research.


Societal transformation (individual, community and university) through experiential education as a foundation for intellectual,  moral and civic growth.


Young people are educated for life as innovative, caring and engaged citizens, responsible, courageous and ethical leaders.


Digital and entrepreneurial capability for social innovation and community cohesion.

More information:


Last Modified: Thu, 16 Mar 2023 09:29:52 SAST