85% of first-year students think universities should actively promote sustainable development and around 60% want to learn more about it. (NUS & HEA, 2014).
Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) alongside 15 HE and FE institutions in the UK have been chosen to pilot for this whole-institution approach to embed environmental sustainability and social responsibility.
The aim is to develop a desirable, externally assessed accreditation mark , spanning the formal and informal curriculum, applicable to both further and higher education.
During September and October MMU worked in Partnership with the Students’ Union and the National NUS to shape criteria for the accreditation mark. Over the next months MMU will test the approach and feedback to the NUS.
The defined criteria will provide a framework from which we can pick and mix commitments, actions and interventions that suit us (we are already doing a lot of good work). Some of the criteria would be mandatory, with all the others optional. Each criterion would be scored and we would need to attain or exceed a threshold score to receive the accreditation mark.
Towards the end of the academic year, a team of students would be locally recruited and trained by NUS as auditors, with them then auditing all the criteria under the auspices of an NUS member of staff and/or an independent external evaluator. At the end of the auditing week, the auditors would present findings back to MMU and NUS.
The pilot will run from September 2014 to July 2015. More info about MMU and the Responsible Futures Project.