Higher education and training institutions are expected to be at the forefront of the development and transformation efforts of a nation. They have the responsibility to make multidimensional contributions to the achievements of a nation in terms of boosting the economy, democratic system and good governance. However, Ethiopian higher education has made limited contribution in the realization of such objectives in its history. This may be attributed to several factors; one of the most important is being low coverage. ‘In the past, higher education was not given due attention; its curriculum was not relevant to the country’s problems and its capacity was not commensurate with the country’s trained man power needs both in quantity and quality’ (MoE, 2010). Recognizing these deficiencies, the Ethiopian government has been making efforts to expand higher education so as to contribute more directly to the national strategies of economic growth and transformation.
Bule Hora University (BHU) was, therefore, established to play its part in the national efforts of bringing quality and excellence in teaching-learning, research, community services, administrative functions/good governance, connecting the development of cultural and natural resources with technology and its applications. The foundation stone was laid by H.E Dr. Adehanom Haile (Deputy Minister, Higher Education Affair), the then representative of State Minister, Ministry of Education and H.E Mr. Abadula Gamada, the then President of Oromia Regional State, on 28 November 2008 G.C. The university was officially established by proclamation No213/2011 (2003E.C.) as one of the Ethiopian government higher education institutions (HEIs).
Bule Hora University is located 470 km south of Addis Ababa in Bule Hora town, West Guji Zone, Oromia Regional State. The zone is divided into two agro-ecological zones namely, semi-arid lowlands to the south and the more humid lands at higher altitudes to the north (Tache and Irwine, 2003). The mean annual rainfall across the zone varies between 500mm and 700 mm with an overall average of 648 mm. The area’s mean temperatures range from 25°C to 29°C during hotter season and 14°C to 18°C during colder season of the year (Luseno, et al., 1998).
The area is inhibited mainly by Guji Oromo and there are also other nations and nationalities living in the zone. They preserve and do share many indigenous values. The Oromo indigenous democratic Gada System, known as “Sirna Gadaa” is preserved and practiced mainly in Guji and Borena Zones. Notwithstanding these indigenous values that Guji, Borana, and others cherish in common, the spirit of inter-ethnic group competition, and sometimes conflicts over grazing areas and water resources, remain deep-rooted in these pastoralist communities. The establishment of BHU, in the vicinity, would open an excellent opportunity to study and to solve their problems so as to enhance good governance, spirit of peaceful co-existence, positive attitudes towards diversity and tolerance. These could be achieved through scientific research, community service and partnership that are based on impartial appreciation of all local communities, and their respective contributions to the strategic initiatives BHU would undertake in this regard.
Moreover, the area is known for mining activities (Gold, Silver, Tantalum, Ceramic and others), forest, cash crops and animal resources. Therefore, besides producing competent graduates, establishment of BHU in the area would create a unique opportunity to produce research-based data and information for decision makers, customers, and stakeholders to exploit these indigenous resources as well as to develop and sustain this peculiar ecosystem.
Since the construction of BHU delayed beyond expected completion time, the university started functioning in the campus of Bule Hora College of Teachers Education with a total of 243 regular and 116 weekend degree students in 4 faculties in 2011/12(2004E.C) academic year; and transferred to its own campus in September 2012(2005E.C).
Currently, Bule Hora University functions in two campus premises: the main campus at Bule Hora the other campus college of Behavioral science is located in Guji Zone Adola City. In its both regular and non- regular programs, BHU offers a total 60 regular academic programs, of which 60 are undergraduate programs 31 Postgraduate programs ( 30 2nd Degree and 1 3rd Programs) and 2 are certificate of postgraduate Diploma. In this academic unit, the university has now a total of 17,120 enrolled students, including 16,568 are undergraduate students 752 masters students are 1336 postgraduate Diploma students & community school. Besides, the University has 699 academic and 3478 administrative staff members.