The Benchmark Standards for University Social Responsibility provide a framework for the ESSA project, with participating universities receiving an audit according to the criteria behind the four key themes of the standards:
1. Research, Teaching, Support for learning and Public engagement
The criteria within this theme refer to the academic freedom for staff and students; a widened and diversified access to education; the transparent and equitable student admissions; the proper use of public funds; the international collaboration and cross-national mobility; the ethical protocols for research, teaching and related activities; the 'real world' research and an open access to research outcomes.
This theme assumes social responsibility as a core commitment, and is related to the involvement of staff and student unions in governance and decision-making; the assessment of risk and impact of all activities; ethical and socially responsible investment and procurement; partnerships with the local community; the internal rewarding of staff and student social responsibility initiatives; and reporting on progress towards social responsibility and sustainability goals.
3. Environmental and Societal Sustainability
The third standard includes the minimisation of any negative impact on the environment; work towards cleaner, sustainable and eco-efficient resource and waste; the publication of environmental sustainability reports; the use of environmentally friendly technologies, energy, and materials; human rights; and, therefore, addressing issues of poverty, quality of life, peace and conflict resolution.
4. Fair practices
Finally, the fourth standard refers to pluralism, diversity, and equality regardless of age, culture, ethnicity, gender or sexuality; the open, transparent, fair and equitable recruitment and promotion of staff; negotiation with staff unions; promotion of health, safety, physical social and mental wellbeing of staff and students; equal, fair and just pay and equitable conditions; the freedom of association and collective bargaining; as well as the support services to meet specific additional needs of students and staff.
A full copy of the standards can be downloaded here.