What kind of responsibility does a university have to its surrounding community? How does interaction take place between universities with the society at large especially in South Africa? And who benefits from the relationship? These were some of the pertinent questions raised during a lively debate hosted by the Central University of Technology (CUT), Free State in Bloemfontein earlier this month as part of their public lecture series.

“When it comes to our relationship and working with the society or communities at large; we see our role and responsibility as moulding, mentoring and educating students that are competent, caring, responsible and productive; and are well prepared for the workplace to help build the economy of South Africa. Our social responsibility is to provide a platform for the development of social and technological innovations for the benefit of the society at large,” said Prof Thandwa Mthembu, Vice Chancellor and Principal of Central University of Technology, Free State.

“Therefore, our focus on community engagement should be to work closely with business and industry, government and community organisations to transfer our social and technological innovations that should, in turn, help solve our societal problems, not only for the benefit of this region, but also the rest of South Africa, Africa and beyond”.

“In teaching and learning, the mandate of a university of technology like ours is to produce graduates with high level intellectual and work-focused skills geared for the workplace.  We therefore cannot operate in isolation from what the industry, business and government expect of our graduates.”

“Our competencies in applied research in areas such as additive manufacturing, advanced product manufacturing, agriculture, and food safety can help us to come up with innovative ways to secure a sustainable food supply for the benefit of the region and improve the manufacturing capacity of the central region.  In order to achieve these solutions, we have to work closely with the manufacturing and agricultural industries “The relationship between our university and industry is critical to being innovative in knowledge transfer and, in turn, for the upliftment of our society at large,” concludes Mthembu.     

For more information about CUT and the social responsibility projects that the university is involved with, visit www.cut.ac.za. CUT is also on Facebook and Twitter (@cutfsonline)