Powered by Memorial University, Newfoundland, Canada

Reflecting on Regional Engagement of Higher Education Institutions: Have We Learned Anything

Lead Researcher and Department
Dr. Wade Locke, Department of Economics, Memorial University

Funding Resources
Harris Centre

From 2005 to 2007, Memorial University of Newfoundland (MUN) and the College of the North Atlantic (CNA) participated, with the other Atlantic Provinces, in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Developmentís (OECDís) 12-country, 14-region study on the contribution of higher education institutions (HEIs) to regional development. That study attempted to strengthen the contributions of HEIs to regional/local development by improving interplay and mutual capacity building between HEIs and regional/provincial/local stakeholders and to raise awareness that the role of HEIs extends beyond the core competencies of knowledge generation (research) and knowledge transfer (teaching) to a third function, knowledge mobilization (regional/local engagement).

This OECD exercise yielded vast amounts of useful information, which may be intimidating and may not be as accessible to those who can make good use of this research. To facilitate its use in the Newfoundland and Labrador (NL) context, this report has reviewed, evaluated and synthesized the relevant information to determine what lessons NL can take from the OECD exercise.

By applying these lessons locally, both the Atlantic Region and the province can enhance the role of our universities and community colleges as agents of economic and social growth. While NLís HEIs have performed well both in absolute terms and relative to HEIs in the other jurisdictions studied, it is important to recognize that the effectiveness of our universities and community colleges in facilitating regional/local engagement can be enhanced by implementing the positive initiatives and avoiding the negative lessons that fall out of the OECD study.

This report evaluates how NL, MUN and the CNA are doing in terms of regional engagement and it offers illustrations of successful regional engagement initiatives found in NL. In addition, this report profiles regional engagement practices found in the OECD countries studied.

There is a growing awareness around the world of the importance of local HEIs engaging local stakeholders and applying some of the institutionsí intellectual capital to issues and problems that are important locally. Sometimes this awareness simply translates into lip service and does not become a tangible approach to promote institutional engagement. Consequently, rather than expressing the right sentiments, bolstered by the latest buzzwords, it is important to implement meaningful and specific changes within the HEIs.


Higher education institutions, HEIs, Regional development, Regional engagement, International

Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada
St. John's
Avalon Peninsula

Industry Sectors
Universities (Educational services)
Technical and trade schools (Educational services)

Thematic Categories
Postsecondary (Education)
Community Development
Regional Economic Development (Rural Development)

Economics, Faculty of Arts (STJ)
Harris Centre (STJ)