Emerging University-Society Engagements in Africa

An Analysis of Strategic Plans


  • Teklu Abate Bekele American University in Cairo
  • Denis Gulu University




Africa, engagement, higher education, society, strategic plans, universities


Due mainly to globalization, knowledge economies, liberalization, and regulation and accountability regimes, higher education institutions are under increasing pressure to demonstrate their relevance and significance to society. European and North American universities have rearticulated their profiles and adopted entrepreneurial and engaged mandates. The extent to which and how African universities are strategically repositioning themselves in that respect remains obscure. Using relevant theoretical frameworks, this study explores emerging modalities of university-society engagements and linkages in Africa through a critical analysis of the current strategic plans of 30 universities from 14 countries. Qualitative and quantitative analyses of the strategic plans reveal that universities have explicitly identified strategies for the production and transfer of knowledge; for creating networks and partnerships; and for engaging varied stakeholders in decision making at various levels. Implications for further research are identified.


Download data is not yet available.


Addie, J. (2018). Urban(izing) university strategic planning: An analysis of London and New York City. Urban Affairs Review, 55(6), 1612-1645.

Allison, M., & Kaye, J. (2011). Strategic planning for nonprofit organizations: A practical guide and workbook. John Wiley & Sons Publications.

Altbach, P. G. (2008). The complex roles of universities in the period of globalization. Higher Education in the World 3. http://hdl.handle.net/2099/8111

Assie-Lumumba, N. T. (2006). Higher education in Africa: Crises, reforms and transformation. A working Paper Series. Centre for Development of Social Science Research in Africa.

Audretsch, D. B. (2014). From the entrepreneurial university to the university for the entrepreneurial society. Journal of Technology Transfer, 39, 313–321.

Barnnet, R. (2004). Learning for an unknown future. Higher Education Research & Development, 23(3), 247-260.

Bekele, T. A. (2018). Context in comparative and international education studies. In A. W. Wiseman (Ed.), Annual review of comparative and international education 2017: International perspectives on education and society, Vol. 34 (pp. 275–299). Emerald Group Publishing Limited.

Brennan, J., King, R., & Lebeau, Y. (2004). The role of universities in the transformation of societies: an international research project synthesis report. Centre for Higher Education Research and Information/Association of Commonwealth Universities.

Carayannis, E. G., & Campbell, D. F. J. (2006). ‘Mode 3’: Meaning and implications from a knowledge systems perspective. In E. G. Carayannis & D. F. J. Campbell (Eds.), Knowledge creation, diffusion, and use in innovation networks and knowledge clusters: A comparative system approach across the United States, Europe, and Asia (pp. 1- 25). Praeger.

Carayannis, E. G., & Campbell, D. F. J. (2012). Mode 3 knowledge production in quadruple helix innovation systems: Twenty-first-century democracy, innovation, and entrepreneurship for development. Springer.

Cardno, C. (2018). Policy document analysis: a practical educational leadership tool and a qualitative research method. Educational Administration: Theory and Practice, 24(4), 623-640.

Castells, M. (2001). Universities as dynamic systems of contradictory functions. In J. Muller, N. Cloete, & S. Badat (Eds.), Challenges of globalisation: South African debates with Manuel Castells (pp. 206-223). Maskew Miller Longman.

Chang, G. (2006). Strategic planning in education: Some concepts and steps. UNESCO.

Clark, B. R. (2004). Delineating the character of the entrepreneurial university. Higher Education Policy, 17(4), 355-370.

Cloete, N., & Maassen, P. (2015). Role of universities and the African context. In N. Cloete, P. Maassen, & B. Tracey (Eds.), Knowledge production and contradictory functions in African higher education (pp. 1-17). African Minds.

Etzkowitz, H., & Leydesdorff, L. (2000). The dynamics of innovation: from national systems and “Mode 2” to a triple helix of university-industry-government relations. Research Policy, 29, 109-123.

Etzkowitz. H. (2014). The entrepreneurial university wave: from ivory tower to global economic engine. Industry and Higher Education, 28(4), 223-232.

Evelyn,M., Michael, L., & Royston, G. (2017). Pathways of institutional change: an integrative review and research agenda. Journal of Management, 20(10), 1-26.

Frederik, S., & Therese B. (2016). Support to regional cooperation and integration in Africa – What works and why. Elanders Sverige AB.

Frempong, G., Mohamedbhai, G., & Addy, A. (2014). Introduction: University research governance. In G. Mohamedbhai, G. Frempong, & A. Addy (Eds.), University research governance and national innovation systems in West and Central Africa (pp. 1-7), Association of African Universities.

Gaffikin, F, & David C. Perry. (2009). Discourses and strategic visions: The U.S. research university as an institutional manifestation of neoliberalism is a global era. American Educational Research Journal, 46(1), pp. 115–44.

Gyimah-Brempong, K., & Ondiege, P. (2011). Reforming higher education: Access, equity and financing in Botswana, Ethiopia, Kenya, South Africa, and Tunisia. The Africa Competitiveness Report. World Economic Forum, The World Bank and the African Development Bank.

Hannon, D. (2013). Why is the entrepreneurial university important? Journal of Innovation Management, 1(2), 10-17.

Hinton, K. E. (2012). A practical guide to strategic planning in higher education. Society for College and University Planning.

Ibrahim, O., & Fred, M. (2018). The East African higher education area: A global or regional education space? FIRE: Forum for International Research in Higher Education, 4(3), 55-76.

Juma, S. (2013). Quality regimes in Africa: Reality and aspirations. International Higher Education, (73) 16-18.

Lazarus, J., Erasmus, M., Hendricks, D., Nduna, J., & Slamat, J. (2008). Embedding community engagement in South African higher education. Education, Citizenship and Social Justice, 3(1), 57-83.

Massen. P. (2014). A new social contract for higher education? In G. Goastellec, & F. Picard (Eds.), Higher education in societies: A multi scale perspective (pp. 33-50). Sense Publishers.

Molla, T., & Cuthbert, D. (2016). In pursuit of the African PhD: a critical survey of emergent policy issues in select sub-Saharan African nations, Ethiopia, Ghana and South Africa. Policy Futures in Education, 14(6), 635-654.

Mugabi, H. (2014). Institutionalisation of the third mission of the university: The case of Makerere University. Doctoral dissertation. University of Tampere.

Mugabi, H. (2015). Institutional commitment to community engagement: a case study of Makerere university. International Journal of Higher Education, 4(1), 187-199.

Nowotny, H., Scott, P., & Gibbons, M. (2003). Introduction: ‘Mode 2‘revisited: the new production of knowledge. Minerva, 41, 179-194.

Ofoyuru, D. T. (2018). Institutional and disciplinary perspectives of community transformation in Gulu University. Doctoral dissertation. Makerere University.

Ogunsanya,O., & Govender, I. (2019). University community engagements: Current tensions and future trends. International Journal of African Higher Education, 6(1), 51-76.

Pinheiro R., Wangenge-Ouma G., Balbachevsky E., Cai Y. (2015). The role of higher education in society and the changing institutionalized features in higher education. In J. Huisman, H. de Boer, D. D. Dill, & M. Souto-Otero (Eds.), The Palgrave international handbook of higher education policy and governance (pp. 225-242). Palgrave Macmillan.

Pirtea, M., Nicolescu, C., & Botoc, C. (2009). The role of strategic planning in modern organizations. Annales Universitatis Apulensis Series Oeconomica, 11(2), 953-957.

Pugh, R., Lamine, W., Jack, S., & Hamilton, E. (2018). The entrepreneurial university and the region: What Role for entrepreneurship departments? European Planning Studies, 26(9), 1835-1855.

Reichert, S. (2019). The role of universities in regional innovation ecosystems. European University Association.

Rhoades,G., & Slaughter, S. (2006). Mode 3, academic capitalism and the new economy: Making higher education work for whom? In P. Tynjälä, J. Välimaa, & G. Boulton-Lewis (Eds.), Higher education and working life-collaborations, confrontations, and challenges (pp. 9-33). Elsevier.

Schalkwyk, F. (2015). University engagement as interconnectedness: Indicators and insights. In N. Cloete, P. Maassen, & B. Tracey (Eds.), Knowledge production and contradictory functions in African higher education (pp. 203-229). African Minds.

Slaughter, S., & Rhoades, G. (2009). Academic capitalism and the new economy: Markets, state, and higher education. The Johns Hopkins University Press.

Teferra, D. (2013). Funding higher education in Africa: State, trends and perspectives. Journal of Higher Education in Africa, 11(1-2), 19-51.

Teferra, D. (2014). Charting African higher education: Perspectives at a glance. International Journal of African Higher Education, 1(1) 9-21.

UNESCO. (2010). Strategic planning: Concept and rationale. International Institute for Educational Planning.

Wagenaar, H. (2007). Philosophical hermeneutics and policy analysis: Theory and effectuations. Critical Policy Studies, 1(4), 311-341.

Walker, W. E., Rahman, S. A., & Cave, J. (2001). Adaptive policies, policy analysis, and policymaking. European Journal of Operational Research, 128, 282-289.

Winberg, C. (2006). Undisciplining knowledge production: Development driven higher education in South Africa. Higher Education, 51(2), 159-172.

World Bank. (2019). Improving higher education performance in Kenya: a policy report. World Bank.




How to Cite

Bekele, T. A., & Ofoyuru, D. T. . . (2021). Emerging University-Society Engagements in Africa: An Analysis of Strategic Plans . Journal of Comparative & International Higher Education, 13(1), 151–180. https://doi.org/10.32674/jcihe.v13i1.1690



Empirical Article