Skip to main navigation menu Skip to main content Skip to site footer

Research Articles

Vol. 27 No. 3

University Social Responsibility: A Paradox or a Vast Field of Tensions?

March 20, 2021


University social responsibility (USR) is a fashionable concept that is often presented as a paradox, with the implication that it can help universities meet the social dimension of higher education, without questioning the hegemonic meanings of academic excellence and the university mission. We draw on data collected through a focus group of experts on USR to suggest that this concept has the potential to contribute to the transformation of higher education, particularly if its tensions and contradictions are addressed. Three tensions emerged from the data: real versus unreal change, institutional cooperation versus competition, and the right to privacy versus excessive transparency. We conclude that USR is neither a neutral nor a consensual concept; rather, it is eminently political, and HEIs and their leaders, teachers, staff, and students should confront, discuss, and take a stand on its tensions and contradictions.