|Abstract: ||It is to be taken for granted that the university serves as a handmaiden to the burgeoning
internationalization of scholarly communication and of knowledge in general. But it is also founded within
particular cultures and embedded in a specific society and it is the child of the communities in which it is
set. Because higher education is a public service and education a social good, the university has a public
duty not only to go beyond its academic agenda and broaden its extra-curricular services deep into the
realm of social and community life, but also to protect and advance local cultural, intellectual and scholarly
traditions. They have also the responsibility to respect the rights of the consumers of their services with
exemplary ethical integrity and moral concern.
In spite of this, however, Ethiopian higher education institutions, both private and government, have failed
to satisfactorily live up to fulfilling their social responsibility that may include, inter alia, spearheading
socio cultural endeavours, nurturing the accumulation of social capital, safeguarding social justice,
promoting environment protection, advocating social and political debates, designing conflict resolution
mechanism, etc. They have also succeeded very little in providing good quality and socially relevant
research and teaching services as well as in their socially crucial responses to the threats and opportunities
posed by globalization.
It is worth remarking, however, that some private colleges in the country have made a good start in
fulfilling their social responsibilities in some areas like the promotion of environmental sanitation
programs, the organization of research and discussion forums, the promotion of sports activities, and the
like; but still, a more aggressive civic engagement is lacking.
With the above background and theoretical notes, this paper attempts to address the extent to which
private higher education institutions in the country especially those operating in Addis Ababa are pursuing
social responsibility as a fundamental principle.
In more specific terms, the paper explores into the extent of the sense of moral responsibility and ethical
concern which Private Higher Education Institutions are exercising towards the consumers of higher
education services as public goods; this will be done using such variables like quality, pertinence, finance
and management, international cooperation/competition as well as the attempt to massify higher education and other related variables as gauges of the pursuit of social responsibility. The paper also attempts to look into the depth of engagement of Private Higher Education Institutions both
as participants and leaders in promoting social, cultural, economic and to some extent, political activities
that directly benefit the general public. More philosophically, this refers to the utilitarian gestures these institutions extend to the larger public as a practical expression of gratitude to the society to whom they
owe their very raison d’étre.
A semi-structured questionnaire is used to collect information from colleges selected on the basis of
stratified random sampling technique. The data collection is further enriched through observations, group
discussions, and reviews of documents, where available.
Finally, following critical interpretations and some percentage descriptions of the findings, the paper makes
suggestions that would help these institutions strive better to get engaged in championing this responsibility and be able to avail their services to the society in which they have been germinated to the level of expectation and ultimately be able to “survive” in this competitive world of fast evolving academic breakthroughs and scholarly excellence.|