Building your community: 5 experiences that universities can host

Community Development


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Building your community: 5 experiences that universities can host

Lim Wen Yi
February 9, 2023

Lim Wen Yi

Wen Yi is a freelance writer who works in strategy consulting. She is passionate about education, policy and graphic design.

October 4, 2023

With lifelong learning comes an opportunity for universities to look beyond their campus, and reevaluate the role they can play in their broader community. At, we care about community building and want you to get the most out of your existing resources. 

Creating and cultivating shared experience is an important foundation to teaching students 21st century skills like collaboration, communication and empathy. We’d argue that the most meaningful, memorable university experiences often involved some sort of community! 

It is essential that universities build a strong sense of community, particularly in an age where society is increasingly polarised. 

Moreover, alumni who were actively involved during their time as a student are more likely to have a sense of pride in their alma mater. We want your students to carry on the lessons and values learned for the rest of their lives.

Here are some of our suggestions for experiences that universities can host, to upskill, support and empower your communities.

Upskilling Courses

As we dive deeper into a digital economy, the demand for those with future-ready skills has grown exponentially. The urgent need for upskilling has created a global market for massive open online courses (MOOCs), provided via online Learning Management Systems (LMS), such as edX, Coursera, Canvas Network and 

While many universities are structured around a formal education system, it pays to be a first mover in our changing landscape. Partnering with LMS platforms allows universities to share their existing resources with learners worldwide, while taking away the stress of creating and managing your own digital systems. 

It is no wonder that leading tertiary institutions, including Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the National University of Singapore all currently offer MOOCs!

Alumni Networking Events

While universities traditionally maintain their alumni network through physical events, dinners and the like, if the pandemic has taught us anything, it is that most people are just a click of the mouse away.

The value of community during tough periods is not to be underestimated. Connecting current students with people who used to be in their position will greatly help them as they begin navigating their own journeys in the working world.

Take advantage of the fact that everyone is more likely to be staying home, and try out digital ways of connecting your student network – be it through chat groups, webinars, or even a Clubhouse room!

Mental Health Check-ins

A study conducted among university students in Malaysia revealed that almost 30% of participants experienced some form of anxiety during the period of April to May 2020. Given the lack of mental health awareness in Malaysia, an accurate figure might be even higher. As the hidden pandemic of poor mental health continues to spread, universities must step up and check-in on their students’ wellbeing. 

In addition to existing counselling and student support services, universities can hold open, moderated discussions on mental health in collaboration with psychology experts. Workshops to teach overall wellness strategies – e.g. sleeping habits, time management, exercise – can help raise awareness and build resilience.

It is particularly important that students know they have access to resources from their university, given that students staying on campus experienced the highest anxiety levels (compared with those who stayed with family and friends). 

Waste Reduction Initiatives

Wastage is a perennial problem on campuses, owing to the sheer scale of consumption that takes place. Be it food, paper, single-use packaging, or electricity, universities face numerous sustainability-related challenges. While it is inspiring to see the many student-led initiatives there are in this space, universities can do more to proactively lead this change. 

A proven starting point for eco-consciousness would be to visually demonstrate the amount of waste the university produces. This allows students and staff to view the extent of their consumption habits, and lends itself to discussions on the life-cycle of plastics, the problems faced by so-called sustainable packaging, etc. 

Many universities have gone a step further to adopt recurring initiatives, such as Meat-Free Mondays, or banning single-use packaging, to institute a culture of sustainability within their student body.

Rent to the Community

As we look towards lifelong learning, universities must establish themselves as an always accessible, central part of their broader community. Gone are the days where universities were purely academic settings, for libraries and lectures.

Campuses are now diverse hubs with a multitude of facilities, including makerspaces, test kitchens, performance theatres, etc. Unfortunately, these spaces can also go under-utilised – especially during term breaks. 

In response to this problem, apps like link universities and those interested in renting a space, while managing bookings, payments and customer relationships. Never worry about an empty campus over the holidays again!

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