Defining a responsible university: society, impact, relevance and growth

  • Phindile Lukhele-Olorunju
  • Thokozile Mayekiso


The idea of responsible institutions has recently gained international recognition and is not limited to the business or corporate sector but has even spread to educational institutions such as universities. A responsible university acts for the benefit of society and this social responsibility drives its mandate to deliver education to society. Social responsibility is a fundamental operational framework of the university and is as important as the education imparted to society by the university. This paper considers the concept of a responsible institution from the contextual platform of the relatively new University of Mpumalanga (UMP), South Africa. The study examines: the concept of a responsible university in relation to the strategic framework of a university; the practical objectives that incorporate social responsibility; and the long-term goals of the university in maintaining the tradition of a responsible university with respect to society, impact, relevance and growth. One of a responsible university’s objectives is to inform and educate society and to produce relevant and impactful research which stimulates economic growth. This objective is achieved when the university adopts transparency and formulated reasoning in its operations and decisionmaking processes. UMP has a general responsibility to ensure that the impact and growth she seeks to achieve resonates within every aspect of the institution, as well as within society.