Under the framework of the EU-funded project ESSA (European Students, Sustainability Auditing), 23 students were trained in university social responsibility through a programme mixing online materials with face-to-face learning.
Students are increasingly interested in the issue of social responsibility when choosing the universities they want to study in. They want to have a positive impact on their communities, instead of replicating old models that do not work. ESSA project is addressing this need. The project’s key achievements to date include:
12 facilitators trained
12 facilitators have been trained during a 5-day facilitator programme held at the University of Porto between 30th January and 3rd February 2017. Project partners and trained facilitators produced a facilitator-training manual.
23 students participated in the student auditor-training programme
Project partners developed the auditor-training programme in blended mode, mixing online materials with face-to-face learning. Pre-course activities lead to an intensive six-day interactive training programme, followed by the audit and post-courses. 23 students have so far participated in the student auditor-training programme. The first draft of an audit manual provides guidance for student auditors and includes a component for institutions arranging an audit.
First audit at the University of Edinburgh
The first audit has been completed at the University of Edinburgh in April 2017 by 14 student auditors from visiting universities. They were supported by 9 students from the host university and completed a 5-day audit that subsequently led to an audit report based on their findings.
Students who completed the training and audit, and submitted the reflective reports, received a Certificate in Social Responsibility Auditing (EQF Level 6, 5 ECTS credits).
Evidence available so far, from both surveys and a whole-cohort focus group review shows that students regarded the training as very informative, with an appropriate balance across the various topics that had to be covered. Student satisfaction levels have been impressively high with some students describing their overall experience of the training and the audit as transformative, and in a few cases even as the best experience to date in their university education.
Feedback such as this makes the ESSA project an important component for innovating in higher education, and drives us to continue our work.