Background

The European Students Sustainability Auditing (ESSA) project is a response to the developing commitment of higher education institutions and the growing interest of students in University Social Responsibility.  The project received funding from Erasmus+ (KA2 - Cooperation for innovation and the exchange of good practices, 2016-1-UK01-KA203-234648) from 01.09.2016 to 31.08.2019.

Recent trends in the conceptualisation of University Social Responsibility (USR) have generated a diversification and fragmentation of aims, objectives and practices.  The Benchmark Standards for University Social Responsibiliyt were developed through an earlier EU Lifelong Learning Programme funded project as a response to this fragmentation of the field and as a guide to interventions in policy and practices.  The Benchmark Standards identify USR as comprising actions under the four key themes of:

  • Research, Teaching, Support for learning and Public engagement
  • Governance
  • Environmental and societal sustainability
  • Fair practices

The ESSA project empowers students as auditors of social resposibility using the Benchmark Standards.  During the Erasmus+ funded period, participating students experienced a learner-centred training programme USR auditing followed by completing cross-national student audit of a European higher education institution.

Participating students received an EQF Level 6 Certificate in Social Responsibility Auditing following satisfactory completion of the training programme, the institutional audit and the Certificate requirements through a portfolio based assessment of learning.

The objectives of the ESSA project have been to:

  • Create an innovative approach to the recognition and validation of knowledge, skills (including soft skills) and competences
  • Produce a significant Open Educational Resource (OER) for a ECTS 5 Credit Certificate in Social Responsibility Auditing (EQF Level 6)
  • Contribute to the wider process of developing alternative models of curriculum development