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Towards a sustainability reporting guideline in higher education

Sandra Huber (Faculty of Business, Economics and Social Sciences, University of Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany)
Alexander Bassen (Faculty of Business, Economics and Social Sciences, University of Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany)

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education

ISSN: 1467-6370

Article publication date: 14 December 2017

Issue publication date: 18 January 2018

Abstract

Purpose

So far, sustainability reporting in higher education is in a very early stage – partly, because of the lack of an established and widely recognized sustainability reporting framework for higher education institutions (HEIs). Therefore, a modification of the sustainability code for the use in the higher education context was recently developed in Germany. The purpose of this paper is to evaluate this modification from an academic point of view.

Design/methodology/approach

The evaluation of the sustainability code is based on selected reporting principles drawn from frameworks of sustainability and financial reporting.

Findings

The evaluation shows that to a large extent, the modification of the sustainability code for HEIs contributes to the fulfillment of the selected reporting principles. However, it also became evident that there is still room for improvement, especially in terms of clarity and the inclusion of material aspects.

Practical implications

The need for an implementation manual regarding the modified HEI-specific sustainability code is emphasized, as the sustainability code requires further clarification to be manageable for HEIs.

Originality/value

This paper provides suggestions for the further development of a sustainability reporting guideline for HEIs to enhance its alignment with both sustainability reporting principles and the needs of HEIs.

Keywords

Citation

Huber, S. and Bassen, A. (2018), "Towards a sustainability reporting guideline in higher education", International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, Vol. 19 No. 2, pp. 218-232. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJSHE-06-2016-0108

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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