Jimma University – An Evolving Institution

Historically, Jimma University has focused on teaching as the primary area for investment and development. However, as academic programs are becoming increasingly strengthened through various efforts, the university seeks to expand on its overall contribution to the local society and the nation. Entrepreneurship is emphasized as a way for the university to become a self sustaining entity as well as to assist in the development of the local city.  The university also places a higher emphasis on its leading role as a research university, and as such investment into research activities and the facilities that can accommodate advanced research activity is emphasized in the planning of the university. Faculty members are given the resources necessary to contribute to the world through various research projects as well. Even students are involved in research efforts, and as part of the Community Based Education program student groups are tasked with conducting research.

Jimma University has always been internationally oriented. However with the inclusion of internationalization as one of the four pillars of the university, an international element is designated to be included into all aspects of university activity.  Along with international collaboration efforts, the university is working towards becoming an increasingly attractive destination for a variety of actors from all around the world. Students and faculty are encouraged to add an international element to their careers and academic work. Ethiopia is becoming an increasingly important international actor, and with an increase in private sector activity with foreign partners, the international professionalism of graduates is becoming emphasized as part of the academic career. Students and faculty are working hand in hand with partners from a variety of cultures and are becoming increasingly exposed to different cultural and  linguistic qualities.

Jimma University is increasingly becoming a center for crosscutting, multidisciplinary efforts to address critical challenges in a variety of sectors. This can be seen in the multidisciplinary research activity ongoing on campus as well as the increasing number of conferences hosted by Jimma University.

Jimma University is entering into a new phase of investment and development. With changes to the physical structures of the campus, new models of investment and financial sustainability are also being employed. Jimma University is entering a new phase of investment that is increasingly relying on private sector contributions to the university. Jimma University is introducing novel means of generating income so that self sufficiency and fiscal sustainability can become a reality in the coming years. Among these initiatives include the building of athletic facilities for spectators, the building of a campus hotel, as well as a grand conference hall.

Jimma University is evolving not only to meet the educational demands of the country of Ethiopia, but increasingly to forge a novel identity in African higher education. Through deliberate evolution of this nature, Jimma University is on the verge of being one of the most innovative, forward thinking, and impactful institutions of higher education on the African continent. Through this evolution the national leadership of Jimma University, which began with its founding in the late 1980’s, will continue into the next century and higher education in Ethiopia will gain tremendously.