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Student sustainability trends

The Higher Education Academy have recently commissioned a student survey on "First year attitudes towards, and skills in, sustainable development". The results are no surprise, yet do not echo what employers are really doing to use the potential interest of younger people entering work.
  • over 80% of respondents believe sustainability skills are important to their future employers;
  • employers anticipate a need to employ staff with these skills;
  • 63% of respondents are prepared to sacrifice £1,000 salary to work for a sustainably-aware company;
  • awareness of sustainable development schemes is up to five times more likely in first-year students who have come from a sixth-form attached to a state school than those who have come from a standalone sixth form college or private school;
  • sustainability concerns are significant in students’ university choices;
  • ESD is considered by many practitioners to be a nebulous concept with a need for a nationally accepted working definition;
  • the research indicates that skills in sustainable development are slightly more relevant to students from Scotland, where there is a history of national policy in ESD;
  • 65% of respondents believe that sustainability skills should be delivered throughout the curriculum rather than through a separate module;
  • ESD content is avoided when teaching staff feel they do not know enough about the issues;
  • there can be limited institutional drive to encourage the embedding of ESD into the curriculum which is often seen as already overcrowded.

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