The research attempts to aim to evaluate the perception that different stakeholder groups have of one of the largest and most important Romanian university with respect to its sustainability orientation. The exploratory empirical research reveals some important aspects which must be closely pursued and properly implemented by the management of the university to further develop sustainability strategies. The paper offers a novel approach regarding the way a university can and must focus on different specific measures on sustainability to gain a better position on the educational market, to attract new students and lifelong learning (LLL) programme participants, as well as to become a trend setter for defining and transferring good practices within the society.
Data were collected by questionnaires and in-depth-interview guides which were distributed to different stakeholder groups: bachelor (undergraduate) and master’s students versus LLL programme participants coming from different high schools across the country enrolled on a training course organized by the university and high school principals versus staff members of the university holding coordination and/or management positions. The collected data were then analyzed by means of econometric analysis. Data validity, reliability and internal consistency were checked (Cronbach’s α coefficient, “item-to-total” correlation, the KMO criterion (>0.7) and Bartlett’s test of sphericity). With the help of exploratory factor analysis, the way in which different stakeholders value and perceive the specific measures and efforts undertaken by the university has been extracted.
Students, LLL participants and members of the university staff perceived the university’s positive orientation towards sustainability and the measures taken in this respect. All stakeholders expressed highly favourable opinions of the university’s dealings with different sustainability aspects, such as its attitude towards its employees, its performance within the higher education market and its establishment of an attractive and innovative educational programme, in compliance with sustainability principles, environmental protection and modern attitudes towards society.
The research has been conducted on a sample of students of bachelor and master level, belonging to the biggest faculty of the university (as to number of students and staff). In a more comprising study, the focus should also be on bachelor, master and PhD students of the other faculties of the university, as well as on citizens of the community or in general on people from Transylvania and/or Romania. The university under investigation is one of the most important employers of the region. Further dimensions of sustainable development could also be pursued in a future study.
The university shows an orientation towards civil society by means of specific actions and programs. The university supports and takes part in the organization of cultural and artistic events in cooperation with local authorities and other cultural and/or social institutions and organizations. Respondents also refer to some examples of best practices that might be applied by education institutions to educate young people towards developing a proper sustainable mentality.
There exist almost no comparative empirical studies of sustainability on Romanian universities that take account of the perspectives of students, LLL participants and staff members. The findings have a high potential in developing a proper strategy for the university involved but could also be used by the government if designing a national wide policy regarding this issue. Different authors argue that young people are more conscious about sustainability, organic stuff, environmental protection, green marketing, etc. Taking into consideration the sensitivity of young peoples (students, staff members, etc.), as well as the fact that the university establishes social trends, the idea of studying sustainability in a university could be regarded as a novelty approach.
The authors want to thank to the anonymous reviewers for their useful comments and suggestions which helped in improving the paper. A part of the ideas has been obtained by a grant financed by the Romanian National Authority for Scientific Research and Innovation, CNCS – UEFISCDI, project number PN-II-RU-TE-2014-4-0312 and POSDRU-87-1.3-S-63909 “Improving teachers in secondary education, who teach Romanian to national minorities”.
Dabija, D.-C., Postelnicu, C., Dinu, V. and Mihăilă, A. (2017), "Stakeholders’ perception of sustainability orientation within a major Romanian University", International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, Vol. 18 No. 4, pp. 533-553. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJSHE-10-2015-0169
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