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Outreach | Community Engagement

Defining outreach (volunteerism)

Outreach or voluntary skills transfer occurs when a skill is shared or transferred without any instruction from the university but where this transfer takes place in the name of the university. One example would be students or staff who volunteer to offer extra classes in their subject area. If there is no academic oversight, it is volunteerism or outreach. However, if the activity is regulated by academic oversight and students are evaluated for curricular purposes, it is service learning. (See work-integrated learning and service learning policy.)

Note: All activities carried out in the name of the North-West University must be registered on the university’s community engagement database by sending an e-mail to Bibi Bouwman.


Discipline-based vs. general outreach activities

Professional community services and discipline-based outreach are offered under the auspices of the university and are always voluntary in nature and uncompensated. General outreach encompasses those activities where the institution places its resources, services and expertise at the disposal of the public outside the context of the institution’s teaching-learning and research programmes and are generally sponsored and controlled by the institution itself. These include activities that are organised and carried out to provide general community services, excluding instructional activities.

Examples of discipline-based general advisory services are members serving on advisory boards and editorial committees, consultation services offered free of charge or at a lower cost, testing services offered free of charge or at a subsidised rate (e.g. soil testing, carbon dating, structural testing) and sport outreach programmes.

For referrals to experts at the university, visit the Institutional Office’s help-desk at room 214, Building C1 during office hours or call +27 (0)18 299 4935


General outreach activities, on the other hand, could involve placing the institution’s facilities/equipment or services at the disposal of external bodies or individuals free of charge to, for example, host concerts, recitals and exhibitions for the general public.

As a form of general outreach, developmental recruitment is aimed more directly at learners with a view to attracting them to the North-West University. The impact is wide-ranging, though, and is not restricted to potential students. Some of the activities resorting under the umbrella “developmental recruitment” include sport and teacher-development programmes, science and engineering weeks (mostly funded by the university) and sponsored leadership development programmes that are offered free-of-charge to participants and at low or no cost to the university. Although the community sometimes benefits from the exposure and training provided by developmental recruitment activities, they are primarily arranged with recruitment outcomes in mind.

How to engage with your community

Any staff member or student is welcome to offer his/her discipline-based know-how to whoever requires assistance. Activities of this nature, though, should preferably be uncompensated even though they may be included in task agreements as negotiated with line managers.  

North-West University's Community Engagement Office will gladly offer advice and assistance to anyone – be it a staff member, student or community partner – who wishes to pursue a true community engagement opportunity. As an alternative, consider contacting the respective faculty coordinators or the Student Rag Community Service.

Note, too, that all activities carried out in the name of the North-West University must be registered on the university’s community engagement database. For assistance in this regard, contact the Community Engagement Office.


Join us in partnership

North-West University would like to extend an open invitation to all non-governmental organisations, public benefit organisations, civil society-based organisations, governments and industries – whether local or abroad – with an interest in true community engagement to join us in our endeavours. For more information, contact the Community Engagement Office.