Two news reports from NUS reveal continued student demand for sustainability

3rd September 2018

The National Union of Students (NUS) have published their 8th annual Sustainability Skills research report. This includes perspectives on sustainability in education from students studying in the UK in both higher and further education. 
This year’s research shows student expectations for action on sustainable development by their institutions to be as strong as ever, with 87% HE respondents and 80% FE respondents saying their university or college should actively promote and incorporate sustainable development.
Looking in more detail at students’ experiences of learning the skills, knowledge and attributes needed help address the sustainability challenges facing the world today, over half (61% HE and 56% FE) say being a student at their institution is encouraging them to think and act to help other people and the environment. Looking in more detail at the range of skills, knowledge and attributes encompassed by education for sustainable development, respondents report varied exposure to teaching at their current institution, for example 65% HE respondents say considering ethical issues linked to their subject has been covered however just 33% say understanding how human activity is affecting nature has been covered. Reflecting this there is demand for learning more about sustainability, with 57% of HE students and 55% of FE students responding to a survey saying they want to do just that.
The desire to engage with sustainability continues beyond their time in education, according to respondents to the survey. For example, 75% of HE respondents say they would be willing to make a salary sacrifice of £1000 to work in a company with a positive social and environmental record, a figure that has continually increased over the 8 years of the research (62% in 2010-11 compared with 75% in 2017-18).
NUS have also partnered with students’ unions and institutions around the world to find out what students studying beyond the UK think about the same issues. 
They surveyed over 3000 responses from students studying around the world. These students reported an almost universal (91%) expectation to see action on sustainability from their place of study, and also of a similarly high demand to learn more about sustainable development. 
As with the research conducted in the UK, students around the world told of their desire to continue their involvement with sustainability beyond their time in education – 61% said they would accept a salary sacrifice lower than average to work in a company with a positive social and environmental record. 
Within the survey, students were also asked for their views on climate change, an issue that students in the UK have frequently identified as the most important issue facing the world today.  This research reflected these findings with 93% saying they want to see governments around the world do whatever it takes to address climate change.
Find out more about both of these reports here:
Sustainability Skills 2017-18
Student perceptions of sustainability in higher education: An international survey
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