Special Issue "Promoting Sustainability in Higher Education"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 December 2020).

Special Issue Editors

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Elena de la Poza
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Universitat Politècnica de València, Camí de Vera, s/n, 46022 València, Valencia, Spain
Interests: business models; sustainability; firm valuation; technology; digital economy; fintech
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals
Dr. Javier Orozco-Messana
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Mechanical and Materials Engineering, School of Building Engineering, Materials Technological Institute, Universitat Politècnica de València, Valencia, Spain
Interests: materials for energy and building sustainability; higher education; internationalization

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Higher education institutions (HEIs) are the epicenter of innovation and critical thinking, nurturing each new generation of leaders, policy makers, entrepreneurs, scientists, researchers, and educators. HEIs are responsible for raising awareness and fostering better understanding of the sustainable development goals determined at the 2030 Agenda (United Nations).1

This Special Issue deals with the commitment of HEIs towards comprehensively integrating sustainable development practices into their core mission.

In this Special Issue, we are bringing together scholarly work that describes and analyzes how higher education can connect with and contribute to a sustainable growth worldwide.

Topics include but are not limited to:

  • Teaching sustainable development across all disciplines of study;
  • Encouraging research and dissemination of sustainable development knowledge;
  • Green campuses and supporting local sustainability efforts;
  • Engaging and sharing information with international networks;
  • Sustainable local and international capacity development;
  • Methods for assessing sustainable development;
  • Sustainable quality hidden risks of higher public education.

1 Goal 4. Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all. 4.7 By 2030, ensure that all learners acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development, including, among others, through education for sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles, human rights, gender equality, promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence, global citizenship and appreciation of cultural diversity and of culture’s contribution to sustainable development.

Dr. Elena de la Poza Plaza
Dr. Javier Orozco-Messana
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1900 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Higher education
  • Sustainable quality
  • Sustainable development
  • Green campus
  • Local sustainability
  • Capacity building
  • Sustainability knowledge and skills
  • Risks

Published Papers (22 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle
Funding Campus Sustainability through a Green Fee—Estimating Students’ Willingness to Pay
Sustainability 2021, 13(5), 2528; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13052528 - 26 Feb 2021
Viewed by 438
Abstract
Many higher education institutions promote sustainability by instilling environmental awareness within college students, the innovators of the future. As higher education institutions face budgetary constraints to achieve greener campuses, green fees have emerged as an alternative method for universities to encourage student participation [...] Read more.
Many higher education institutions promote sustainability by instilling environmental awareness within college students, the innovators of the future. As higher education institutions face budgetary constraints to achieve greener campuses, green fees have emerged as an alternative method for universities to encourage student participation and overall campus sustainability. A green fee is a mandatory student fee that funds sustainability projects on campus and is typically managed by a group of students and faculty. We are the first to assess students’ support for a mandatory green using a single dichotomous choice, contingent valuation question and estimating the willingness to pay to fund campus sustainability using a discrete choice model. Using results from a survey at a private college in New York City, we found more support for $5 and $10 green fee values. Using both parametric and non-parametric estimation methods, we found that mean and median willingness-to-pay values were between $13 and $15 and between $10 and $18, respectively. We suggest implementing a green fee between $10 and $13 following the lower values of the non-parametric median willingness to pay (WTP) range estimates that do not rely on distributional assumptions. We hope that other academic institutions follow our research steps to assess the support for a green fee and to suggest a green fee value for their institutions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Promoting Sustainability in Higher Education)
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Open AccessArticle
Universities’ Reporting on SDGs: Using THE Impact Rankings to Model and Measure Their Contribution to Sustainability
Sustainability 2021, 13(4), 2038; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13042038 - 13 Feb 2021
Viewed by 769
Abstract
Higher education institutions (HEIs) have voiced growing concerns about sustainability issues since Agenda 2030 was approved, but this is not enough for societal stakeholders seeking and delivering innovation and excellence. The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were adopted by all UN Member States [...] Read more.
Higher education institutions (HEIs) have voiced growing concerns about sustainability issues since Agenda 2030 was approved, but this is not enough for societal stakeholders seeking and delivering innovation and excellence. The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were adopted by all UN Member States in 2015 as a universal call to action, and pose a challenge for HEIs as for the efforts made to fulfill them and knowing how to assess their performance. However, the metric management system implemented by HEIs quickly led to rankings emerging, which compare HEIs to metrics not related to the sustainability dimensions of the 17 SDGs. The main aim of the paper is to assess the level of reporting and alignment of SDG achievements with the overall the Times Higher Education (THE) ranking score. For this purpose, our study (i) models and quantifies the impact of HEIs’ disclosure of SDG information on HEIs’ overall THE Impact Rankings score, (ii) analyzes whether the best ranked universities are indeed significantly related to different SDGs than other not-so-well-ranked ones, and (iii) models the differences in the overall score and its alignment with distinct SDGs by dimensions, subjects, and geographical regions. In order to do so, a descriptive analysis, non-parametric tests, and linear and logistic regression analyses were performed. Our results reveal that the overall ranking is related to the reporting of HEIs’ SDG achievements. Moreover, the more positive actions related to health, education, industry, responsible consumption and production, climate action, and partnerships there were, the higher the position of HEIs in the general ranking was. However, we found differences between top-ranking universities and others in geographical location, disclosed information, and impact. Thus, the best-ranked universities are more committed to transferring knowledge to industry to satisfy its needs (SDG9), support strong institutions in their countries, and promote peace and justice (SDG16). Finally, SDG9 and SDG17 are the most relevant and constant SDGs when modeling the alignment of SDGs with HEIs’ dimensions (teaching, research, citations, industry income, international outlook) and subjects (technological and social sciences and humanities). HEIs integrating SDG actions into the strategic management of universities and, consequently, reporting their SDG performance to promote sustainability and contribute to sustainable development, is advisable. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Promoting Sustainability in Higher Education)
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Open AccessArticle
The Green Business and Sustainable Development School—A Case Study for an Innovative Educational Concept to Prevent Big Ideas from Failure
Sustainability 2021, 13(4), 1943; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13041943 - 11 Feb 2021
Viewed by 754
Abstract
This article addresses the question of why initiatives in the field of green business and sustainable development often fail. Therefore, it dismantles some typical patterns of failure and shows—as a case study—how these patterns can be challenged through an innovative educational concept: the [...] Read more.
This article addresses the question of why initiatives in the field of green business and sustainable development often fail. Therefore, it dismantles some typical patterns of failure and shows—as a case study—how these patterns can be challenged through an innovative educational concept: the green business and sustainable development school. The applied methodology is a real-life project that is designed through methodological elements stemming from business model canvas, theory U, stakeholder participation, and design thinking. The results of the school initiative are discussed and evaluated by four distinctive stakeholder groups and the school’s supporting potential to overcome typical patterns of failure in the green business and sustainable development arena by the younger generation in the future is outlined. This article concludes with ideas to enhance the school concept to reach even more stakeholder-groups and increase its reliability and viability. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Promoting Sustainability in Higher Education)
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Open AccessArticle
Service-Learning Projects in University Degrees Based on Sustainable Development Goals: Proposals and Results
Sustainability 2020, 12(19), 7940; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12197940 - 25 Sep 2020
Viewed by 677
Abstract
We present several Service-Learning projects developed considering Sustainable Development Goals to provide the students skills for the support of a sustainable society. This project begins with collecting initial impressions from surveys and reflections to know both the students’ expectations and their degree of [...] Read more.
We present several Service-Learning projects developed considering Sustainable Development Goals to provide the students skills for the support of a sustainable society. This project begins with collecting initial impressions from surveys and reflections to know both the students’ expectations and their degree of involvement in the development of a sustainable society. Next, the students design academic projects taking into account the needs of the specific collective to which the Service-Learning activity is oriented. When this design has finished, such projects are developed with the users and the activity is evaluated. During 2019–2020, these projects were done with four entities oriented to people either with Asperger’s syndrome, Down syndrome, Alzheimer’s disease or mental health illnesses. A total of 35 and 10 students, respectively, from the Bachelor’s Degree of Engineering in Industrial Design and Product Development and from the Master’s Degree in Professorship of High School have participated in this experience. We analyze the results from the perspective of the different agents involved, considering both qualitative and quantitative metrics. The results show that both users and staff are satisfied with this collaboration between the university and their entities. Moreover, this experience clearly has contributed to a better personal and professional student’s development. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Promoting Sustainability in Higher Education)
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Open AccessArticle
Intercultural Learning Challenges Affecting International Students’ Sustainable Learning in Malaysian Higher Education Institutions
Sustainability 2020, 12(18), 7490; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12187490 - 11 Sep 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 987
Abstract
The tendency for internationalization of higher education in many Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) around the world, including those of Malaysia, is increasing with the current wave of globalization; however, the main challenge of international HEIs is how to manage intercultural diversity and overcome [...] Read more.
The tendency for internationalization of higher education in many Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) around the world, including those of Malaysia, is increasing with the current wave of globalization; however, the main challenge of international HEIs is how to manage intercultural diversity and overcome intercultural learning challenges that affect international students’ learning outcomes and learning sustainability. Hence, the aim of this study was to investigate intercultural learning challenges that affect international students’ learning sustainability through a proposed measurement model. The data were collected from 273 international students in Malaysian HEIs through a survey and were analyzed using variance-based structural equation modeling (i.e., PLS-SEM). The results showed that intercultural challenges did not have a significant effect on students’ learning sustainability. Nevertheless, language challenges, academic challenges, and research challenges were found to have a significant negative impact on the learning sustainability of international students. The study concluded that intercultural learning barriers are considered to be intercultural learning challenges, which have a negative effect on international students’ learning sustainability even though international students might overcome such challenges with the passage of time. In addition, the study identified different factors pertaining to international students’ learning sustainability, such as students’ language and learning skills, Higher Education Institutions’ educational systems, and lecturers. Based on the finding of the study, Higher Education Institutions need to create a clear framework that encompasses these factors to improve learning sustainability among international students. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Promoting Sustainability in Higher Education)
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Open AccessArticle
Sustainable Assessment Tools for Higher Education Institutions: Guidelines for Developing a Tool for China
Sustainability 2020, 12(16), 6501; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12166501 - 12 Aug 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 944
Abstract
Higher education institutions (HEIs) in both early and mature stages of sustainable development (SD) have been moving toward sustainability. Methods for assessing SD have been developed from global and regional contexts to support sustainability efforts. The purpose of this paper is to formulate [...] Read more.
Higher education institutions (HEIs) in both early and mature stages of sustainable development (SD) have been moving toward sustainability. Methods for assessing SD have been developed from global and regional contexts to support sustainability efforts. The purpose of this paper is to formulate guidelines as input to develop a sustainable assessment tool (SAT) for China based on the current SD stage of Chinese HEIs. Through desk research, SATs were selected and analyzed. Fifteen SATs consisting of more than 1000 indicators included in the analysis and based on components for developing SATs were identified, and then the components were selected and discussed through an online workshop engaging a 34-people Chinese research team, in order to formulate the guidelines for Chinese HEIs. The findings reveal that the emphasis of SATs mainly results from their contexts, purposes and stages, backgrounds or focus. Chinese HEIs are in the early SD stage, and the multiple purposes and components of SATs are identified to support local sustainability efforts. Having a clear understanding of the current SD stages of SATs and selecting the components accordingly would enable them to fully reach their potential in practice, especially in the case of early SD HEIs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Promoting Sustainability in Higher Education)
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Open AccessArticle
How and Why the Metric Management Model Is Unsustainable: The Case of Spanish Universities from 2005 to 2020
Sustainability 2020, 12(15), 6064; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12156064 - 28 Jul 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 492
Abstract
The metric management model is a method based on quantitative indicators called metrics and is used to evaluate individuals and organizations. Organizations’ sustainability is related to risk and expectation concepts and both are, in turn, related to the metric management model (MMM). The [...] Read more.
The metric management model is a method based on quantitative indicators called metrics and is used to evaluate individuals and organizations. Organizations’ sustainability is related to risk and expectation concepts and both are, in turn, related to the metric management model (MMM). The main objective of the present research work is to analyze the MMM applied to the Spanish university system (SUS) and the propagation of its consequences. The secondary objective is to study alternatives to the metric management system applied to the SUS to avoid its negative socio-economic consequences. Our results reveal how applying the MMM to the SUS, based on the metric evaluation and the ranking monitor model, deteriorates research quality, students’ levels of education and working people’s well-being at university. Finally, university managerial boards, teased with the “mirror” of university rankings and the picture a simulacrum of reality, are still unaware of the damage. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Promoting Sustainability in Higher Education)
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Open AccessArticle
Towards a Greener University: Perceptions of Landscape Services in Campus Open Space
Sustainability 2020, 12(15), 6047; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12156047 - 28 Jul 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 908
Abstract
Universities are showing a growing interest in becoming green institutions and improving campus open space management. Well-designed urban landscapes guided by green criteria integrate eco-friendly infrastructure which may be effective in facing urban challenges in the context of climate change. Student preferences and [...] Read more.
Universities are showing a growing interest in becoming green institutions and improving campus open space management. Well-designed urban landscapes guided by green criteria integrate eco-friendly infrastructure which may be effective in facing urban challenges in the context of climate change. Student preferences and uses of campus outdoor environment should draw the attention of campus landscape planners. This study aims to analyse how the university community perceives landscape services provided by the Spanish Universitat Politècnica de València’s campus open space. An online questionnaire was sent to the university community to check its opinions, level of satisfaction, and their demands related to the current situation of the outdoor areas. Campus open spaces with different urban green infrastructure have a high potential to provide cultural, provisioning, and regulation landscape services. Respondents perceive the main benefits provided by campus open spaces to be that they are a place to relax, meet friends, and pass through. Their needs related to the welfare of outdoor areas and their preferences differ according to age, occupation, and time spent at the campus. This paper intends to help the university to meet environmental guidelines and to help other universities in their endeavour to reach sustainability and ensure the university community’s well-being. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Promoting Sustainability in Higher Education)
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Open AccessArticle
Effects of the Performance-Based Research Fund and Other Factors on the Efficiency of New Zealand Universities: A Malmquist Productivity Approach
Sustainability 2020, 12(15), 5939; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12155939 - 23 Jul 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 559
Abstract
Universities and academic institutions play a very crucial role in nation development through the production of highly competent manpower. The eight universities in New Zealand have been recognized as some of the top academic institutions in the world. However, the rankings from different [...] Read more.
Universities and academic institutions play a very crucial role in nation development through the production of highly competent manpower. The eight universities in New Zealand have been recognized as some of the top academic institutions in the world. However, the rankings from different international organizations are declining and are hardly likely to rise. Government policies in funding allocation are being blamed for the universities’ regress as they operate with an insufficient amount of funds. This study uses the Malmquist Productivity Index model to examine the technical efficiency, technological change, and productivity performance of the eight universities. This model uses a variety of inputs (number of academic and non-academic staff and total enrolment) and outputs (number of degree and postgraduate graduates, total graduates, and total operating revenue from the Equivalent Full-Time Student (EFTS) funding system and the Performance-Based Research Fund (PBRF), etc.) obtained for the period 2013–2018. The overall results show that the average catch-up and frontier-shift efficiencies of the universities are roughly in a “no-change” scenario, meaning that the universities did not make any progress over these years. The Malmquist Productivity Index (MPI) also shows a stable result, with average final values slightly higher than 1, wherein only five universities reached an actual productivity score of 1. It is recommended that the universities improve their internal factors, including personnel, equipment, facilities, and student services, while taking accounts of external aspects, such as rapid growth in technological environments and innovations, to achieve sustainable organizational progress and improved productivity. The re-assessment of government policies for funding allocation is also suggested. This research paper offers insights into the New Zealand universities’ productivity performances for the past few years. This could be used as a reference for other purposes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Promoting Sustainability in Higher Education)
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Open AccessArticle
A Comparative Analysis between Global University Rankings and Environmental Sustainability of Universities
Sustainability 2020, 12(14), 5759; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12145759 - 17 Jul 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 744
Abstract
Global University Rankings (GURs) intend to measure the performance of universities worldwide. Other rankings have recently appeared that evaluate the creation of environmental policies in universities, e.g., the Universitas Indonesia (UI) GreenMetric. This work aims to analyze the interaction between the Top 500 [...] Read more.
Global University Rankings (GURs) intend to measure the performance of universities worldwide. Other rankings have recently appeared that evaluate the creation of environmental policies in universities, e.g., the Universitas Indonesia (UI) GreenMetric. This work aims to analyze the interaction between the Top 500 of such rankings by considering the geographical location of universities and their typologies. A descriptive analysis and a statistical logistical regression analysis were carried out. The former demonstrated that European and North American universities predominated the Top 500 of GURs, while Asian universities did so in the Top 500 of the UI GreenMetric ranking, followed by European universities. Older universities predominated the Top 500 of GURs, while younger ones did so in the Top 500 of the UI GreenMetric ranking. The second analysis demonstrated that although Latin American universities were barely present in the Top 500 of GURs, the probability of them appearing in the Top 500 of the UI GreenMetric ranking was 5-fold. We conclude that a low association exists between universities’ academic performance and their commitment to the natural environment in the heart of their institutions. It would be advisable for GURs to include environmental indicators to promote sustainability at universities and to contribute to climate change. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Promoting Sustainability in Higher Education)
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Open AccessArticle
Internships for Higher Education Students to Promote the Local Sustainability of Rural Places
Sustainability 2020, 12(12), 4926; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12124926 - 17 Jun 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 663
Abstract
Sustainability and population have a complex relationship. Popular versions of the first are usually based on the premise of reducing the population. However, in some remote rural areas with a low density, this condition needs to be reconsidered, as it would put the [...] Read more.
Sustainability and population have a complex relationship. Popular versions of the first are usually based on the premise of reducing the population. However, in some remote rural areas with a low density, this condition needs to be reconsidered, as it would put the viability of the local community at risk and lead to environmental, economic and, above all, social losses. Although repopulation is impossible, since remote rural areas have an ageing demographic structure and an extremely low fertility rate, we can propose the regeneration of their human, social and relational capital by attracting talent and commitment. To achieve this, the Desafío Programme (Rural Erasmus) enables university students to do internships in companies and institutions in sparsely populated areas, living alongside their residents. Despite being an experimental policy with a narrow scope in statistical terms, the Desafío Programme is an inspiring experience supported by those who have participated in it and contributes to the social and economic regeneration of areas in decline. This is a practical case of applying a sustainable strategy to a rural area in crisis, which can be transferred to many other countries facing a similar problem. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Promoting Sustainability in Higher Education)
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Open AccessArticle
A Study of Quality Assessment in Higher Education within the Context of Sustainable Development: A Case Study from Czech Republic
Sustainability 2020, 12(11), 4769; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12114769 - 11 Jun 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 884
Abstract
Quality has become an increasingly important and critical success factor at higher education institutions, particularly universities. Numerous discussions have been held about education quality in the context of sustainable development. However, the quality of that education strongly depends on the overall quality of [...] Read more.
Quality has become an increasingly important and critical success factor at higher education institutions, particularly universities. Numerous discussions have been held about education quality in the context of sustainable development. However, the quality of that education strongly depends on the overall quality of the management system which operates at schools. The principal aim of this article is to present the approaches to the quality management systems’ development and their assessment at universities, and share some lessons learned from this area of research. Some possibilities of the ISO 9001 standard’s implementation, as well as the application of excellence models as a response to community demands, will be discussed, especially in the context of the recently-introduced Act No. 111/1998 Coll on Higher Education Institutions, which requires quality assurance and quality evaluation. A case study from The VSB-Technical University of Ostrava shows approaches, results and effects of the quality management system implementation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Promoting Sustainability in Higher Education)
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Open AccessArticle
Fostering Sustainable Development through Shifting Toward Rural Areas and Digitalization—The Case of Romanian Universities
Sustainability 2020, 12(10), 4020; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12104020 - 14 May 2020
Viewed by 1222
Abstract
Educational institutions, especially universities, have been major pillars in societal transformation throughout society’s history. They have been leading change through their discoveries, research results, and foremost, their example. Nowadays, universities have once again taken the role of leading change in a world that [...] Read more.
Educational institutions, especially universities, have been major pillars in societal transformation throughout society’s history. They have been leading change through their discoveries, research results, and foremost, their example. Nowadays, universities have once again taken the role of leading change in a world that is profoundly determined to have a sustainable approach to life, paying attention to the long-term effects of their actions. In this sense, under the impact of deep digitalization, this paper advocates for the sustainable development of universities regarding campuses’ expansion to rural areas. Moreover, it was demonstrated that sustainable development can be achieved by embracing the potential of digitalization. Based on a multicriteria analysis of the Romanian development regions, the research results showed that the rural area might be a welcoming environment for campuses of sustainable universities, based on digitalization at the level of the rural area in all activity fields, which is an initiative that would generate positive outcomes on many levels for different types of stakeholders, such as universities, students, staff, rural area population, and the nearby business environment. Future research aims to approach and explain the compounded effects of such an approach in depth and establish an even clearer picture of how beneficial such an expansion could prove to all factors considered under a knowledge-based society with digitized information as a vital pillar. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Promoting Sustainability in Higher Education)
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Open AccessArticle
Promoting Employability in Higher Education: A Case Study on Boosting Entrepreneurship Skills
Sustainability 2020, 12(10), 4004; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12104004 - 14 May 2020
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 1142
Abstract
How can higher education increase the employability of university students? We present a case study on an innovative training itinerary aimed to promote the participation of teaching staff to stimulate the creativity of students and enhance their employability skills. Students acquire the entrepreneurship [...] Read more.
How can higher education increase the employability of university students? We present a case study on an innovative training itinerary aimed to promote the participation of teaching staff to stimulate the creativity of students and enhance their employability skills. Students acquire the entrepreneurship competences by applying the problem-solving methodology to their innovative projects based on sustainable development. The participation in the contest shows a growing importance, with topics ranging from the more technical ones, such as nutrition innovation, science innovation, or sustainability, to the social projects, related to social services, inclusion, or services against gender violence, harassment, and bullying. The percentage of multidisciplinary teams increased from 38% in 2015 to 76% in 2019 and even more in finalist teams, a positive trend in improving soft skills. According to some testimonies, the acquisition of these entrepreneurship competences partially compensates for students’ lack of professional experience by enriching their curriculum vitae (CV) and, for some students, lays the groundwork for establishing a real business after their participation in the contest. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Promoting Sustainability in Higher Education)
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Open AccessArticle
Application of the Modified College Impact Model to Understand Chinese Engineering Undergraduates’ Sustainability Consciousness
Sustainability 2020, 12(7), 2614; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12072614 - 25 Mar 2020
Viewed by 1240
Abstract
The college impact model provides a valuable framework for explaining various college student learning outcomes. However, few quantitative studies have examined the effectiveness of college impact model in explaining engineering undergraduates’ sustainability consciousness, a critical learning outcome in engineering education. This study proposes [...] Read more.
The college impact model provides a valuable framework for explaining various college student learning outcomes. However, few quantitative studies have examined the effectiveness of college impact model in explaining engineering undergraduates’ sustainability consciousness, a critical learning outcome in engineering education. This study proposes a modified college impact model to test the structural links among curriculum experiences, sustainable agency beliefs, and engineering undergraduates’ sustainability consciousness, and to explore the moderating effect of gender on the structural model. Data are collected from 1804 senior engineering students enrolled in five traditional engineering disciplines at 14 first-class engineering universities in China. Structural equation modeling was used for testing the research model. The results demonstrate that (1) curricular emphasis has a significant direct impact on all three dimensions of students’ sustainability consciousness, while instructional practice has a significant direct influence on the sustainability knowingness dimension; (2) both curricular emphasis and instructional practice have a significant indirect influence on sustainability consciousness through the full or partial mediation of sustainable agency beliefs; and (3) gender moderates several paths in the structural model. Theoretical and practical implications are provided, and suggestions for future research are offered. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Promoting Sustainability in Higher Education)
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Open AccessArticle
Sustainable Development at Higher Education in China: A Comparative Study of Students’ Perception in Public and Private Universities
Sustainability 2020, 12(6), 2158; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12062158 - 11 Mar 2020
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 1618
Abstract
This research is implemented in the backdrop of the increasing number of private universities established in China over the last decade, and a growing public concern of sustainable development. The private university has a different reputation and source of funding compared with the [...] Read more.
This research is implemented in the backdrop of the increasing number of private universities established in China over the last decade, and a growing public concern of sustainable development. The private university has a different reputation and source of funding compared with the public one, leading to different perception and practices toward sustainable development. Yet, none of past studies have investigated into public and private universities in the Chinese context, making this study fill this gap through comparing students’ perception in Zhongkai University of Agriculture and Engineering (a public university) and Guangzhou College of South China University of Technology (a private university). By using the five-point Likert scale questionnaire, 393 students from the public university and 347 students from the private university participated in the survey. The results reveal that students have greatest concern with sustainability commitment and their university’s role for promoting sustainable development, and have least concern with sustainability curricula and research. Compared with students from the public university, students in the private one more often agree on the importance of sustainable development, and have a higher level of perception about commitment, knowledge, attitudes, and practices toward sustainability. The study findings assert that the higher level of perception from private university’s students is due to active campus sustainability engagement and positive stakeholder relationship managed by university management. The study implies that higher education needs to decentralize sustainable plans and decision-making to students, staff, and faculty, and public universities need to incorporate more sustainability-related context into curriculum and academic project. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Promoting Sustainability in Higher Education)
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Open AccessArticle
Relevance of Skills in Total Quality Management in Engineering Studies as a Tool for Performing Their Jobs
Sustainability 2020, 12(5), 2065; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12052065 - 07 Mar 2020
Viewed by 741
Abstract
The Spanish higher education system needs to adapt to the requirements of the European Higher Education Area and to this end, it is necessary for higher education institutions to improve the quality of university education, leading to an increase in competency-based learning activities [...] Read more.
The Spanish higher education system needs to adapt to the requirements of the European Higher Education Area and to this end, it is necessary for higher education institutions to improve the quality of university education, leading to an increase in competency-based learning activities aimed at developing the skills of graduates. Since university graduates face a large number of requirements when entering the labour market, they need to develop and constantly update the appropriate skills to carry out their work properly. This paper aims to address two fundamental questions. First, do engineering graduates need acquired skills in Total Quality Management (TQM) to perform their jobs successfully? Secondly, which job profile requires the highest level of Total Quality Management training and knowledge? We carried out different multivariate statistical analyses using a sample of engineering graduates who had been in the labour market for two years. The results show that knowledge of this type of management philosophy is necessary for adequate job performance. The job profile requiring the highest level of skills in TQM is described. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Promoting Sustainability in Higher Education)
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Open AccessArticle
Identification of Variables that Predict Teachers’ Attitudes toward ICT in Higher Education for Teaching and Research: A Study with Regression
Sustainability 2020, 12(4), 1312; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12041312 - 11 Feb 2020
Cited by 11 | Viewed by 1234
Abstract
The aim of this research is to analyse the attitudes towards information and communication technologies (ICT) of higher education teachers from an affective, cognitive and behavioural model for teaching and research. It also aimed to explore different factors that can predict such attitudes. [...] Read more.
The aim of this research is to analyse the attitudes towards information and communication technologies (ICT) of higher education teachers from an affective, cognitive and behavioural model for teaching and research. It also aimed to explore different factors that can predict such attitudes. A non-experimental study was proposed using a survey technique and descriptive and inferential analyses were carried out using a multiple linear regression model (MLR). In total, the sample was formed by 867 university professors from Spain belonging to different areas of knowledge. The results show that these teachers have a medium total attitudinal level, so the lowest attitudes have been represented by the behavioural ones, followed by the affective ones. Regarding the predictor variables, variables that can predict such attitudes were found to be age, participation in projects, gender and teaching in face-to-face and/or online universities (ordered from highest to lowest priority). Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Promoting Sustainability in Higher Education)
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Open AccessArticle
Experiences in Transdisciplinary Education for the Sustainable Development of the Built Environment, the ISAlab Workshop
Sustainability 2020, 12(3), 1143; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12031143 - 05 Feb 2020
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 821
Abstract
There is a growing recognition and acceptance that society needs to develop new pathways to achieve a more sustainable future. Our current model of development poses significant challenges when it comes to achieving a more just society based on respect for nature and [...] Read more.
There is a growing recognition and acceptance that society needs to develop new pathways to achieve a more sustainable future. Our current model of development poses significant challenges when it comes to achieving a more just society based on respect for nature and human rights, and demands a sustainable economy supported by a new circular model supporting the UN sustainable development goals. Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) accordingly have developed Master programs that are responsible for providing fundamental services in the joint effort towards sustainability. Meanwhile, leading Universities around the world have developed other very relevant programs. The open and unstructured challenge of sustainability poses an obstacle to existing academic structures. Specifically, the built environment is one of the leading contributors to challenges addressed in the programs such as: Anthropogenic climate change, resource depletion, waste generation and pollution, poverty, and inequity. The Interdisciplinary Sustainable Architecture lab (ISAlab) explores these issues as part of a multidisciplinary approach involving the collaboration of leading Universities from different areas on the world through an innovative initiative. This paper explores the experiences of the ISAlab workshop, which has been taking place yearly in Valencia since 2017. The workshop draws together students from a range of disciplines from across engineering and science, law and the social sciences and from a range of countries and backgrounds, including North and South America, Europe, and Asia. Its purpose is to facilitate a rich co-creative learning environment led by (engineering) academic faculties from across Europe (Spain, the UK, France, Germany, Netherlands and Ireland) as well as North America (the US and Canada), as well as local experts who helped provide participants with appropriate context and guidance. The objective is educating future engineers that are capable of finding robust ways to implement sustainability at a practical level on the built environment, taking account of the multidisciplinary perspective and with the incentive of solving real-life problems. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Promoting Sustainability in Higher Education)
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Open AccessArticle
Exploring University Performance through Multiple Factor Analysis: A Case Study
Sustainability 2020, 12(3), 924; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12030924 - 27 Jan 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 711
Abstract
Higher Education in Colombia is experiencing a period of shortfalls in funding which has obliged Universities to seek resources from non-governmental sources, in addition to this, the Ministry of National Education (MEN) has implemented a scheme where funds are assigned year on year [...] Read more.
Higher Education in Colombia is experiencing a period of shortfalls in funding which has obliged Universities to seek resources from non-governmental sources, in addition to this, the Ministry of National Education (MEN) has implemented a scheme where funds are assigned year on year but this is not considered part of the budgetary base. This study seeks to create a characterisation of the model and proposes the creation of a synthetic performance index based on Multiple Factorial Analysis (MFA). This index enabled us to rank the Higher Education Institutions (HEI) according to their performance and analyse the trajectory of Colombian Universities at a given moment, which meant their evolution over time could be reviewed, moreover within the complexity of the model of indices of results in Colombian higher education, the majority of HEI have a similar, yet, to some degree, distinct structure and display scores which show that within a certain degree of homogeneity, each institution has its strengths in some of the variables considered and its weaknesses in others. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Promoting Sustainability in Higher Education)
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Open AccessArticle
Towards Sustainability in University Education. Improving University Graduates Chances of Employability by Participation in a High Achievement Academic Program
Sustainability 2020, 12(2), 680; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12020680 - 17 Jan 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 823
Abstract
This piece of research focusses on the sustainable development goal (SDG) number four of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development: quality education. The main objective of this research was to determine whether introducing a High Achievement Academic Program (ARA Groups) at a Spanish [...] Read more.
This piece of research focusses on the sustainable development goal (SDG) number four of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development: quality education. The main objective of this research was to determine whether introducing a High Achievement Academic Program (ARA Groups) at a Spanish public university could enhance its graduates’ employability. According to the existing scientific literature, some variables related to the students’ accomplishments during college are good predictors of future employability: academic performance, participation in international exchanges, and participation in traineeships. In the empirical part of this research, our objective was to compare, using descriptive and bivariate statistical analysis, the behavior of the students of the ARA Groups and the regular ones, regarding a set of variables related to the above-mentioned predictors of employability. The outcomes allow us to conclude that ARA students performed academically better and that they participated more in international exchanges. Participation in business internships did not present significant differences, although ARA students scored higher in the employers’ assessment of the internship. Our results suggest that graduates of this program will be more sought-after by companies, and therefore it contributes positively to one of the key objectives of quality higher education, which is employability, and hence to sustainable development. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Promoting Sustainability in Higher Education)
Open AccessArticle
Sustainability in Universities: DEA-GreenMetric
Sustainability 2019, 11(14), 3766; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11143766 - 10 Jul 2019
Cited by 13 | Viewed by 1403
Abstract
Many universities are currently doing important work not only on environmental issues, but also on social and economic matters, thereby covering the three dimensions of sustainability. This paper used data envelopment analysis to construct a synthetic indicator based on the variables that make [...] Read more.
Many universities are currently doing important work not only on environmental issues, but also on social and economic matters, thereby covering the three dimensions of sustainability. This paper used data envelopment analysis to construct a synthetic indicator based on the variables that make up the UI GreenMetric. The aim was to quantify the contribution of universities to sustainability, rank all campuses accordingly, and evaluate specific aspects of their related institutional policies. First, cluster analysis was applied, yielding four homogeneous groups of universities. DEA was then applied to these clusters in order to construct the synthetic indicator. The proposed indicator, DEA-GreenMetric, revealed that the USA and the UK were the countries that were home to the greatest number of universities actively involved in all aspects of sustainability. In addition, this new index provides a complete ranking of universities, circumventing the issue of the duplicate scores assigned by UI GreenMetric. Finally, it can be seen that greater efforts are required for universities to improve their performance relating to environmental variables (energy, water use, and waste treatment) than to make improvements in infrastructure, transport, or education. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Promoting Sustainability in Higher Education)
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