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This article discusses a partnership initiative that involved a major Australian research university (University of Melbourne), a local government and a network of local community service organisations. The partnership projects aimed to promote public access to university infrastructure for poor and marginalised residents, enhance the local value of research and teaching activities, and create employment opportunities. The article draws on an evaluation of the partnership, which focused on four keynote projects. It found that the partnership appeared to achieve positive outcomes for residents but was limited by tensions associated with the university’s ambivalent commitment to the value of such partnerships. These tensions remained difficult to resolve because they signalled present contestation over the foundational values of contemporary public universities.
Keywords: university-community partnerships, neoliberalism, neighbourhoods, community development
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