The mission of the unit is to strengthen the research and training focus of the curricular community engagement activities within the current Extended Curriculum Programmes (ECPs) as well as the pre-university programmes on the Mamelodi campus through inter-, multi- and trans-disciplinary research. The aim is to achieve one of the goals of UP Mamelodi as an Anchor Institution Strategy Campus of the University of Pretoria by enhancing access and success and developing a post-secondary school going culture for students in Mamelodi and the surrounding areas. In the long term the aim is to develop a model for linking higher education and basic education to ensure a seamless transition from secondary school to graduation. The unit acts as a hub for inter-, multi and transdisciplinary community based research and postgraduate studies as well as academic service learning for under- and postgraduate students from all faculties within the University for collective impact and sustainability.
Activities offered under the auspices of the UASST are structured around three major components,
Component I: Research on Space, Race, and Partnership Building to Enhance Student Success
A research agenda is developed in relation to concepts of enhancing student success for youth in Newark, Mamelodi, and similarly situated communities. In addition to the research agenda, the unit envisages three convenings of scholars and practitioners who are engaged with research and program design on factors of student achievement in economically marginalized settings.
Component II: Training on Partnerships to Enhance Student Success
The training component of the unit consists of opportunities for stakeholders (representatives from the non-governmental sector and government) in and around Newark and Mamelodi to engage in workshops and professional development opportunities in student achievement, community-building, organizational development and cross-sector collaboration.
Component III: Student Development
Internship opportunities for postgraduate students from the University of Pretoria-Mamelodi and Rutgers University-Newark that enhance their understanding of factors related to student success. Some of these internships entail having teams of graduate students from the University of Pretoria and Rutgers University - Newark collaborating in programming and research around educational partnerships related to enhancing the success of children and youth in their respective communities.
The twelve-month planning project between Rutgers University and the University of Pretoria Mamelodi campus culminated into the articulation of five research niche areas as the primary focus of the anchor institution work in their respective communities of Newark and Mamelodi, namely,
• Broadening educational pathways
• Strong healthy and safe neighbourhoods
• Entrepreneurship and economic development
• Science and the urban environment
• Arts and culture
Inter- and multidisciplinary projects which also speak to issues of space, place and student success, have been identified in the five research niche areas.