Skip to main content Accessibility Statement

Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) is a high priority across the HE sector and strongly links to efforts to address the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.


Higher education providers can support this aim by embedding ESD within all taught courses. Academic quality processes play a key part in this, by potentially including requirements, prompts, checklists and signposting of support and opportunities in relation to ESD. Such processes are wide-ranging and include programme reviews, course (re)accreditations and course representative training/engagement. 


Whilst a wide range of supporting materials which define ESD and share how it can be pursued is available for a UK audience (most notably the Education for sustainable development guidance and accompanying resources produced by Advance HE and QAA), there was an apparent gap around offering specific examples, adaptable templates and advice on how this agenda can be reflected in academic quality processes.


This project addressed this gap by bringing together ten institutions committed to working collaboratively to develop and enhance a range of ESD related academic quality processes, encompassing student voice mechanisms and recognising students as co-creators.


This project produced a report providing specific ideas, processes and examples to aid the development of an institutional departmental approach. The report identified seven principles for adopting ESD through AQ and SV processes, linked to three areas of activity:

  1. Ongoing Academic Quality Processes
  2. One-off Institution or Department-wide Curriculum Change
  3. Student Voice, Feedback and Co-Creation

Report: Education for Sustainable Development and Academic Quality Principles and Processes for Higher Education Providers

Publication date: 30 Jun 2023

In each case, suggested actions link to the strategic fit of ESD with institutional priorities on a key dimension – whether ESD is a high priority or lower priority compared to other agendas.


Additional resources include a set of adaptable templates linked to specific academic quality processes and a range of institution specific examples.


The project also produced ten provider summaries from each project partner, alongside the project survey findings.

The lead institution and seven of the partners all work as partnerships within Responsible Futures, which brings together universities and their Student Unions (SUs) to address ESD at a whole institution level, working with the student-led charity SOS-UK.

Andrew Reeves from De Montfort University discusses ESD and Academic Quality principles and processes for high education providers.

We invited colleagues working on this project to share what meaningful ESD looks like from their perspective and how their work will better enable ESD.

Project lead:

De Montfort University

Project partners:

Manchester Metropolitan University, University of Exeter, University of Derby, University of Leicester, Coventry University, Cardiff University, University of Worcester, University of Bath, University of Strathclyde, and University of Winchester.

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.