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HomeNewsConference Highlights U.S. Support for Ethiopian Public Universities’ Transition to Autonomous Governance 

Conference Highlights U.S. Support for Ethiopian Public Universities’ Transition to Autonomous Governance 

Editor’s note : Content is provided by the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa

Ethiopian Public Universities
U.S. Acting Deputy Chief of Mission Naomi Fellows at the Conference on Ethiopian Public Universities’ Transition to Autonomy, Radisson Blu Hotel, June 3, 2024   (Courtesy of U.S. Embassy Addis Ababa)

U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa

Addis Ababa, June 3, 2024 – The transition of Ethiopia public universities to autonomous governance constitutes a generational change in the nations’ higher education system, allowing public universities to chart their own paths towards greater academic freedom, increased financial control, enhanced linkages with domestic and international partners, and, most importantly, improved quality of education, according to Ministry of Education officials.  The United States government and U.S. universities have a long history of partnership with Ethiopian higher education with the shared goal of improving the quality of higher education.

At the June 3 and 4 conference on Ethiopian Public Universities’ Transition to Autonomy Conference, held at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Addis Ababa, the U.S. government demonstrated its historic ties to Ethiopia higher education remain strong.  The conference featured presentations by Addis Ababa University’s (AAU) leadership team about the progress they have made in developing the key framework policy documents essential to their successful transition to autonomy.  University leaders from the next nine leading also heard insights and lessons learned from the process offered by the Technical Expert Advisory Team, funded by the U.S. Embassy as part of $316,000 grant to U.S.-based NGO IIE to support the higher education system’s transition to autonomy.  The Technical Expert Advisory Team consists of Ethiopian and American higher education experts with a combined 80 plus years of experience in higher education in Ethiopia, the United States, Europe, and throughout Africa who are working with AAU’s leadership team to provide expertise and global perspective. Interim AAU President Dr. Samuel said this input has helped AAU develop stronger, more enduring policies that will not only ensure AAU’s success as a newly autonomous university, but also providing invaluable templates and models for the other public universities transitioning to autonomy as they develop their own framework policies.  

The policies developed to date through this U.S. government-supported process include AAU’s strategic plan and its university senate legislation policy (both officially adopted in January 2024), and its student admission policy, resource mobilization and diversification policy and strategy, endowment policy, internationalization policy and strategy, and the AAU Health governance framework for university’s teaching hospital and school of medicine, all of which are still in development. 

The conference commenced with opening remarks by the U.S. Acting Deputy Chief of Mission Naomi Fellows, alongside State Minister of Education Kora Tushune and Addis Ababa University interim president Dr. Samuel Kifle.  Acting Deputy Chief of Mission Fellows said, “In the spirit of the Point Four program and the 120th anniversary of U.S.-Ethiopian relations, we want to assure you that the U.S. government and U.S. universities are your closest allies in this critical moment in the Ethiopian higher education system.”

The conference also engaged the other nine leading public universities including Bahir Dar, Haromaya, Jimma, Gondar, Mekelle, Arba Minch, Adama Science and Technology, Addis Ababa Science and Technology and Hawassa Universities in facilitated discussions on best practices and lessons learned from the AAU’s policy development process and where the other universities anticipated challenges. 

Partnership in higher education is nothing new in the U.S. – Ethiopian relationship.  The U.S. government and the American people have been committed to the success of higher education in Ethiopia since the very beginning our 120-year long bilateral relationship.  From individual professors who helped establish departments and colleges of law, agriculture, and public health, to the founding of Haramaya, Jimma, and Gondar Universities under the U.S. government’s Point Four program to today’s efforts, the U.S. government and U.S. universities are proud of the key roles they have been able to play in the development Ethiopia’s higher education.  


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  1. Again and again Good Ole USA at its best!!! I am for higher learning institution at university level should operate their campus affairs guided by autonomous governance. That means their students should concentrate wholly on the education they receive from their faculties. Current universities should learn from the experiences of their predecessors of the 1960’s. They should make sure that divisive politics stops at the gates. The students’ primary and only job is to learn, get educated. Students in technology should commit 100% of their time at the campuses learning the latest in engineering and similar sciences. Those pursuing medicine should load themselves up with the latest advancement in the field so they can be capable physicians when they leave the campuses. Those in liberal arts streams should concentrate their efforts in learning from the books they are prescribed with NO books promoting the evil Marxism/Leninism/Maoism in sight. None whatsoever!!!

  2. The other thing that the autonomous universities should never allow; They should never allow professors, foreigners in particular, to have what they call ‘side’ courses/classes especially in liberal arts faculties. That was how commie foreign professors infected the tender brains of the 1960’s generation there.


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