Developing the local, regional, even national communities is often central to a university’s mission. This is a two-way process and both society and university itself should benefit from this collaboration. Universities around the world have been in the past decades required to leave their ivory tower and to become more involved in addressing the needs of the society and thus more relevant for the communities which they serve. They are expected to take a leadership role in implementation of the required change by contributing to community development through knowledge, innovations, skills and jobs. By taking a leading role in society and continuously innovating, universities will support communities with achieving a sustainable growth and therefore will contribute to increasing the well-being of society at large. The current paper aims to assess the university obligations to society by analyzing 27 universities around the world best ranked in social responsibility according to QS Stars University Rating 2016. In the paper, we discuss the extent to which different attributes of the university social responsibility are reflected among the initiatives and projects run by the universities included in the study. Also, an exploratory factor analysis was employed to identify underlying variables that explain the pattern of correlations between university social responsibility initiatives. Following the QS Stars methodology, the dimensions used to evaluate social responsibility of sampled universities included: community investment and development, social work and disaster relief, regional human capital development, and environmental impact. The results show that the level of involvement in social responsibility actions is high for all the universities included in the study. Also, the types of initiatives vary in terms of nature, intensity and impact for each one of the dimensions analyzed. Our research findings offer useful insights for both universities’ leaders and community developers in their joint-efforts to develop and grow a prosperous community.
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