The potential of the University of the Free State QwaQwa campus to enable growth of the economy of QwaQwa
Keywords:Entrepreneurship, higher education, local economic development, third mission
This article explores how universities can contribute to the economy of the area within which they are situated, focusing on the University of the Free State QwaQwa campus. This topic was investigated by analysing the local economy within which the QwaQwa campus is located, a spatial analysis of the campus itself, and interviews with local business owners. First, the article demonstrates how an analysis of the local economy could assist in aligning the university offerings with the dynamics of the local area. It specifically argues for a focus on agricultural and wider commerce-related course offerings. Secondly, an argument is made for leasing or developing the vacant land on campus for non-university-related functions such as middle-income housing or a low- to medium-fee private school. The purpose of such an initiative would be to cross-subsidize the development costs of expanding and improving the QwaQwa campus. Thirdly, through interviews with local business owners, various arguments are made for how the university could better engage with local businesses. These ranged from providing training, disseminating research, increased procurement, and making space for local businesses on campus. Through these arguments, a narrative shows that part of being an engaged university is being aware of, and responding to the needs of the economy within which a campus is located.
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