Sustainability learning in Higher Education:
a review

Headline findings

In this project, we looked at 35 universities across the UK and Ireland to explore how they are tackling the integration of Education for Sustainability into courses. We found:

  • 20 of the top performers have a target on EfS – 14 of them aim to reach all their courses and 11 of these have set a date for this
  • The majority – 29 of the 35 – allow for EfS in any module, but 2 want EfS in compulsory modules that reach all students
  • There is a lot of confusion in the terms and definitions being used, so not easy for students to be clear about what is on offer
  • 19 of the 35 have done an audit on their progress but most have a low threshold for what ‘counts’ as EfS – it can be just some teaching on a ‘single issue’ topic from the UN global goals
Profile image of Bea Hughes

I looked specifically for those who have made a start on this across their courses and strong performers in the field, but these results don’t give a full picture of the entire sector as many universities have yet to begin on EfS at all!

So what?

Most universities are still selling students short, so we’ve made 4 top recommendations:

  1. Overcome confusion on what EfS is for students 
  2. Develop more unity of standards to show what good course practices in EfS look like 
  3. Reinforce a focus on mainstreaming into core learning of all university courses 
  4. Empower student viewpoints to influence change