This paper examines a relationship between the two different concepts of social engagement and responsibilities of public universities in Poland: contribution to the public and the common good. The paper is based on a national case study prepared for an international comparative project that encompasses seven other national cases. The study uses the qualitative method of inquiry, and it is based on 36 semi-structured interviews conducted with the representatives of Polish Ministry of Science and Higher Education and national collegial governing bodies, as well as with the leadership of the two studied universities and the academic faculty in three disciplines: history, economics and engineering. The initial research results go in line with the idea of the bipolar continuum between the public and the common good. In the view of the interviewees, the relational and communal aspects of the contribution of higher education can be based only on the strong support of the state.