Promoting sustainable development in Swedish higher education institutions

13 December 2017

The Swedish Higher Education Authority (UKÄ) has recently published a report concerning their thematic evaluation on how Swedish higher education institutions (HEIs) work in promoting sustainable development in higher education, exploring areas such as: governance and organisation, environment, resources and area, and design, teaching/learning, and outcomes. Each area also includes an assessment criteria focusing on follow-up, actions, and feedback. Higher education institutions were requested to complete a self-evaluation concerning the aforementioned areas, which in turn were peer-reviewed by a panel of experts.

A primary conclusion of the evaluation is that approximately one-fourth of the HEIs are considered to have a well-developed process for promoting sustainable development within education, whereas the majority would benefit from improvements, especially in their mechanisms for follow-up, actions, and feedback. Positive outcomes often seem to coincide with clear management and functions with well-defined responsibility for the overall integration of sustainable development, especially at HEIs of larger size. On the other hand, some of the smaller HEIs described that the closeness within the organisation served as an advantage, facilitating communication, actions, and implementation of sustainable development. Long-term support, as well as a driving force from management, were in general considered important factors for a fruitful result.