Managing Students’ Diversity in Ethiopian Public Universities: Practices and Challenges
Keywords:Diversity, Campus climate for diversity, Diversity management, Public universities
The purpose of this study was to explore the practice and challenges of students’ diversity management by Ethiopian public universities. To accomplish its purpose, the researchers employed convergent parallel mixed method design to guide the study. To this end, a stratified random sampling method was used to select eight public universities and 458 participants in the quantitative part of the study. Furthermore, purposive, availability and snowball sampling methods were used to draw participants for the qualitative aspect. While a modified version of campus climate for diversity instrument was used to collect the quantitative data, key informant interview and document review were employed for the qualitative data gathering. Copies of a modified questionnaire, after trial and necessary adjustment in a pilot study, were distributed to 718 participants and 469 of them were filled and returned. Due to incompleteness of data, eleven of the returned copies were rejected making the final number 458. While SPSS (version-23) was used to run the descriptive and inferential statistics for the quantitative analysis, the qualitative data were thematically analyzed manually. In relation to students’ diversity management, the study found out that the sampled universities’ internal diversity related policy practice (t (.05, 457) = 9.89, p<.001), leadership commitment towards diversity promotion (t (.05, 457) = 7.71, p<.001), diversity related co-curricular activities (t (.05, 457) = 2.86, p<.001) and curricular activities (t (.05, 457) = 2.86, p<.001) related to students’ diversity management were rated as good. Concerning perception difference among participants, the study found out a significant perception difference in leadership commitment towards diversity among students in different-generation universities, F (3, 454) =6.034, p=0.000). Moreover, the qualitative finding showed that the absence of well-planned strategies including invitation of influential figures to discuss sensitive diversity-related issues, the deficiency in the curriculum to respond to diversity-related issues, and lack of commitment of university leaders to promote diversity and act immediately during conflicts were found to be gaps in managing students’ diversity at public universities. Based on the above findings, it was concluded that the campus climate for diversity in the sampled universities was moderately positive. Finally, it was recommended that due attention be given by respective public universities to diversifying the top leadership, academic staff and student body by putting appropriate strategies in place. Also, it is suggested that universities should work to make the curriculum responsive to diversity and strengthen the co-curricular activities that can promote diversity. Most importantly, further researches are recommended on the diversity of academic staff in public universities and by relating diversity management to other outcome variables as well.