Numerous sustainability assessment tools are being created and applied in the higher education sector. In light of such diversity, there is a need to provide a common guideline for sustainability assessment which makes easier the comparison among universities. Using as a reference the Spanish university system, the main aim of this paper is to develop a multi-item quantitative tool for measuring sustainability performance at universities.
To accomplish this task, the first step was to review the literature on sustainability assessment in universities. After reviewing the literature, the authors found more than 1,000 items. The next step was to select those items which were able to fit to the Spanish university context. On this basis, the authors selected a total of 268 items. These items were discussed in a workshop with senior management members from eight Spanish universities with the aim of analyzing the validity and relevance of the items selected.
Then, the proposal for measuring sustainability in Spanish universities was composed of a total of 156 relevant items. In addition, these items were grouped according to seven different dimensions (corporate governance, students, staff, society, environment, companies and continuous improvement). Also, it is important to note that these items were not associated with political risk and they were linked to provide more reliable information to assess sustainability in universities.
Recent literature have stated that the existing tools specifically developed for assessing higher education institutions performance toward sustainability have some weaknesses. Then, one of the main contributions of this study has been the creation of a new multi-item quantitative tool aimed at measuring the integrated consideration of social, economic and environmental dimensions of sustainability in universities.
Larrán Jorge, M., Herrera Madueño, J., Calzado, Y. and Andrades, J. (2016), "A proposal for measuring sustainability in universities: a case study of Spain", International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, Vol. 17 No. 5, pp. 671-697. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJSHE-03-2015-0055Download as .RIS
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