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Increasing and enhancing the provision of Education for Sustainable Development within higher education enables transformative learning for students, which can empower them to make informed decisions and become change agents for sustainable futures. 

Guidance on Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) in higher education, jointly published by QAA and Advance HE, inspires and engages stakeholders, outlines competencies and advises on the assessment of ESD, as and for learning. However, there was little information available in the sector regarding how providers should monitor and evaluate their ESD provision.


Several universities had begun monitoring but were initially largely assessing indicators of activity (such as number of courses with sustainability content) rather than measuring the competencies developed or subsequent impacts of ESD. 



In this project, the team conducted an analysis of existing approaches to monitoring and evaluating ESD through a literature review and practitioner debates. A workshop and key informant interviews further informed the development of a six step framework for monitoring and evaluation ESD using both quantitative measures and reflective approaches that strengthen the learning experience.  


Tools to assess competency acquisition and to enable an integrated and systems approach to evaluation were developed and piloted. This resulted in the creation of a Handbook for Monitoring and Evaluating ESD in Universities to support implementation of the framework, highlight tools and share sector examples.  

Project resources

These online resources are adaptable and can be deployed across the sector at department, faculty and institutional level. 


A Handbook for Monitoring and Evaluating Education for Sustainable Development in Higher Education

Publication date: 25 Aug 2023

Monitoring and evaluating ESD logframe

Publication date: 11 Jul 2023

Student competencies survey for distribution

Publication date: 20 Jun 2023

We invited colleagues working on this project to share with us what meaningful ESD looks like from their perspective and how their work will better enable ESD. In this video, we hear from project lead Dr Rehema White.



The project team hosted two workshops where they presented the outcomes of the ESD project. These webinars were designed for senior managers and academics to discuss the importance and methods of monitoring and evaluating ESD.

Monitoring and Evaluating ESD workshop for senior managers

Monitoring and Evaluating ESD workshop for academics

Project lead:

University of St Andrews

Project partners:

University of Edinburgh, University of Highlands and Islands, EAUC (The Alliance for Sustainability Leadership in Education) Scotland, Scotland’s United Nations University recognised Regional Centre of Expertise on Education for Sustainable Development (Learning for Sustainability Scotland - LfSS), SOS-UK (Scotland) (Students organising for Sustainability) and sparqs (student partnerships in quality Scotland)

Other Collaborative Enhancement Projects

QAA supports a number of projects every year, covering a range of topics and interest areas. Each is led by a QAA Member, working in collaboration with other members institutions. You can find more information on all projects, and access resources and outputs, on our website.