Samuel Tafesse (centre), real estate mogul and founder of Sunshine Investment Group, was the centre of attention at the commencement ceremony of Western University College, where he was awarded an honorary degree on February 1, 2020. At the event that was also attended by Hirut Woldemariam (PhD) (centre-right), minister of Science & Higher Education, and Mikhail Brodsky , president of Lincoln University, Samuel was given the recognition for his efforts in creating employment opportunities and philanthropic activities.
Employing over 2,000 people at the construction, real estate and hospitality businesses he owns, Samuel is also building an elderly centre in Addis Abeba at a cost of 65 million Br, efforts that figured into Western's decision to award him the honorary degree.
One of the 238 private colleges, the 10-year-old Western University College also graduated students at Skylight Hotel with 24 students from the master's programme and 57 students receiving bachelor's degrees in business administration. For Western University College, which boasts a partnership with the century-year-old Lincoln University, based in Oakland, California, and claims that courses are transferrable to its affiliate, this was their ninth graduate and fourth undergraduate batch.
There has been a resurgence in the number of private universities across the country over the decade, doubling in number within just five years. While 371,071 students were enrolled in these universities, over half a million have graduated by last December. Nonetheless, the quality of education offered at private higher learning institutions has often been criticised, while the Higher Education Relevance & Quality Agency has penalised dozens of them.