HEFCE London event: NHS Sustainable Development jab to higher education


Universities should become visible institutions of future, said David Pencheon (Director, Sustainable Development Unit, National Health Service NHS), at a sustainable development consultation event of the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), held in London on 30 January 2014.

The event, part of the ongoing consultation on HEFCE’s sustainable development (SD) framework, celebrated progress and achievements in English higher education, provided a discussion forum for future actions and facilitated networking on sustainable development.

Facilitated by Alison Johns (Head of Leadership, Governance and Management LGM, HEFCE), the day began with a welcome and introduction by Steve Egan (Deputy Chief Executive, HEFCE), who said it was good to see SD becoming more mainstream in English universities. He said HEFCE wanted to know how it could help institutions and students in improving their SD efforts even further.

Presenting the Big Picture, David Pencheon from NHS highlighted a number of key points:

  • SD is about fair, sustainable communities. It’s really important to have a great consultation process
  • Sustainability is a messy, wicked area but we should have tangible, measureable deliverables
  • Many start with efficiency, doing the same business model better. But there’s no point in doing the wrong thing better and better, so transformational change is needed, i.e., a different business model
  • Reframe sustainability positively, for example, highlighting health co-benefits

He also revealed three principles of behaviour change:

  • Most of what we do, we do automatically and is emotionally driven
  • Changes in behaviour requires simultaneous and comprehensive action across all environments
  • Behaviours can be hard to change but two things can help: (1) important life/societal events (2) issues we hold deeply and dearly

‘Critique of the Framework – an institutional perspective’ was delivered by Nigel Carrington (Vice-Chancellor, University of the Arts London), who presented their vision and lessons learned. Although metrics could be misleading, they do focus management minds, he said. He observed that the biggest impact universities could make was probably via the curriculum and mentioned awards such as Green Gown Awards as powerful incentives for staff while highlighting his institution’s exemplary SD efforts, including the Centre for Sustainable Fashion. He also emphasised that HEFCE’s new focus on leadership in its SD framework is ‘hugely important’.

Presenting on Sustainability and Students, Dom Anderson (Vice-President Society and Citizenship, National Union of Students NUS), stressed on students’ strong demand for SD, referring to the recently published report Student attitudes towards and skills for sustainable development (The Higher Education Academy HEA and the NUS). It revealed that over 80% of students believe sustainable development should be actively promoted and incorporated by UK universities. He also outlined the NUS behaviour change initiatives for students:

  • Student Switch-Off: an inter-dormitory energy saving competition
  • Green Impact: an environmental accreditation and awards scheme
  • Student Eats: a local food growing scheme

He also elaborated on the 25 ongoing projects of the HEFCE-funded NUS Students’ Green Fund, saying that a cultural shift had been created through it.

In the panel discussion followed, David Pencheon emphasised that leadership was not always from the top and students were often better at it. Nigel Carrington suggested that one should get into the head of their vice chancellor to see what could attract him or her to sustainability. Dom Anderson reminded that, although the panel comprised men, some of the best people that led on sustainability were women.

In the activity session ‘What really works?’ the delegates swapped success stories within their tables and then a representative from each table shared a moral of an inspiring story.

In the session ‘Discussion and feedback on the consultation’, the participants discussed the consultation questions within their tables and then a table representative shared a key element with the rest of the audience. Among key points emerged were the following:

  • Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) should have a central role
  • A whole institution approach is vital for developing synergies
  • Supporting communities and staff as well as students is important
  • Vice chancellors should be engaged, perhaps through students, who are more likely to be heard
  • The framework should paint a picture what a sustainable university would look like

The day ended with closing remarks and thanks by Andrew Smith (Head of Estates and Sustainable Development at HEFCE).

The first consultation event was held in Leeds on 9 January 2014.

Interested in contributing to the consultation? The consultation document Sustainable development in higher education: Consultation on a framework for HEFCE and the response form are available for downloading from http://www.hefce.ac.uk/pubs/year/2013/201331/. Please email comments and feedback to sustainabledevelopment@hefce.ac.uk by noon on Friday 7 February 2014.

Image created from photographs by Asitha Jayawardena



Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE)

Enquiries on the consultation: Andrew Smith, a.smith@hefce.ac.uk, 0117 931 7001

HEFCE news post on the consultation http://www.hefce.ac.uk/news/newsarchive/2013/news83727.html

HEFCE Sustainable Development Framework http://www.hefce.ac.uk/whatwedo/lgm/sd/framework/

Sustainable development in higher education: Consultation on a framework for HEFCE (consultation document and response form available for downloading from this page) http://www.hefce.ac.uk/pubs/year/2013/201331/

Events on the HEFCE Sustainable development framework consultation http://www.hefce.ac.uk/news/events/2013/events83604.html

LinkedIn Group: HEFCE’s Sustainable Development Framework consultation: Have your say http://www.linkedin.com/groups/HEFCE-s-Sustainable-Development-Framework-7425360?home=&gid=7425360&trk=anet_ug_hm

Twitter @HEFCE #SDframework

Sustainable development page http://www.hefce.ac.uk/whatwedo/lgm/sd/

Sustainable development strategy http://www.hefce.ac.uk/whatwedo/lgm/sd/sdstrategy/

Revolving Green Fund http://www.hefce.ac.uk/whatwedo/lgm/sd/rgf/

Carbon reduction target and strategy for higher education in England http://www.hefce.ac.uk/pubs/year/2010/201001/

Links to sustainable development organisation and resources http://www.hefce.ac.uk/whatwedo/lgm/susdevresources/strategy/

NHS (National Health Service)

NHS Sustainable Development Unit website http://www.sduhealth.org.uk/

University of the Arts London (UAL)

Sustainable Arts UAL http://blogs.arts.ac.uk/sustainability/

Centre for Sustainable Fashion http://www.sustainable-fashion.com/

Blog by Nigel Carrington (Vice-Chancellor, University of the Arts London http://blogs.arts.ac.uk/vice-chancellor/author/ncarrington/

National Union of Students (NUS)

Student Switch-Off http://www.studentswitchoff.org/

Green Impact http://www.green-impact.org.uk/

Student Eats http://www.studenteats.org.uk/

NUS Students’ Green Fund http://www.studentsgreenfund.org.uk/


Related posts on The Sustainable University News & Info website

HEFCE consultation on Sustainable Development Framework until 7 February 2014 https://sunewsinfo.wordpress.com/2013/12/17/hefce-consultation-on-sustainable-development-framework-until-7-february-2014/

Online consultation on QAA/HEA draft guidance on ESD for UK higher education open until 3 January 2014 https://sunewsinfo.wordpress.com/2013/11/29/online-consultation-on-qaahea-draft-guidance-on-esd-for-uk-higher-education-open-until-3-january-2014-2/

QAA/HEA ESD Guidance Document for UK higher education goes under consultation https://sunewsinfo.wordpress.com/2013/11/07/qaahea-esd-guidance-document-for-uk-higher-education-goes-under-consultation/

HEA-NUS Report 2013: Student attitudes towards and skills for sustainable development https://sunewsinfo.wordpress.com/2013/10/03/hea-nus-report-2013-student-attitudes-towards-and-skills-for-sustainable-development/

NUS announces 25 Students’ Green Fund projects in England https://sunewsinfo.wordpress.com/2013/08/14/nus-announces-25-students-green-fund-projects-in-england/

Nottingham tops UI GreenMetric World University Ranking 2013 – Bradford, Plymouth, Bath and Bangor in Top 20 https://sunewsinfo.wordpress.com/2014/01/27/nottingham-tops-ui-greenmetric-world-university-ranking-2013-bradford-plymouth-bath-and-bangor-in-top-20/

UNESCO World Conference on Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) https://sunewsinfo.wordpress.com/2014/01/06/unesco-world-conference-on-education-for-sustainable-development-esd/

Five questions and 100 delegates from 15 countries: COPERNICUS conference on higher education, sustainability and ESD https://sunewsinfo.wordpress.com/2014/01/13/five-questions-and-100-delegates-from-15-countries-copernicus-conference-on-higher-education-sustainability-and-esd/

UNEP publishes Greening Universities Toolkit https://sunewsinfo.wordpress.com/2013/08/07/unep-publishes-greening-universities-toolkit/

Times Higher Education Awards 2013: Greenwich wins Outstanding Contribution to Sustainable Development https://sunewsinfo.wordpress.com/2013/12/01/times-higher-education-awards-2013-greenwich-wins-outstanding-contribution-to-sustainable-development/

House of Commons launch: UK’s Rio+20 Manifesto to strengthen education’s role in sustainable development https://sunewsinfo.wordpress.com/2013/12/09/house-of-commons-launch-uks-rio20-manifesto-to-strengthen-educations-role-in-sustainable-development/

London South Bank University (LSBU) in Africa: Education for Sustainability (EfS) Residential 2013 https://sunewsinfo.wordpress.com/2013/12/13/london-south-bank-university-lsbu-in-africa-education-for-sustainability-efs-residential-2013/

Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) London Conference 2014: Call for Papers https://sunewsinfo.wordpress.com/2013/11/11/education-for-sustainable-development-esd-london-conference-2014-call-for-papers/

ESD has made inroads in new pedagogical ideas in future flexible higher education – HEA report https://sunewsinfo.wordpress.com/2013/11/25/esd-has-made-inroads-in-new-pedagogical-ideas-in-future-flexible-higher-education-hea-report/

Green Gown Awards 2013 – Winners and Highly Commended https://sunewsinfo.wordpress.com/2013/11/13/green-gown-awards-2013-winners-and-highly-commended-2/

Manchester Metropolitan tops People & Planet Green League 2013 https://sunewsinfo.wordpress.com/2013/06/11/manchester-metropolitan-tops-people-planet-green-league-2013/

New website: The Guide to Quality and Education for Sustainability in Higher Education https://sunewsinfo.wordpress.com/2012/12/13/new-website-the-guide-to-quality-and-education-for-sustainability-in-higher-education/

New TOOLKIT: Problem-Based Learning: A Case Study of Sustainability Education https://sunewsinfo.wordpress.com/2013/10/24/new-toolkit-problem-based-learning-a-case-study-of-sustainability-education/


Related posts on The Sustainable University Notes blog

Education’s role in addressing sustainability and ESD http://su-notes.blogspot.co.uk/2013/02/educations-role-in-addressing.html

Higher Education’s role in building a sustainable world http://su-notes.blogspot.co.uk/2013/05/higher-educations-role-in-building.html

Pathways to a sustainable university http://su-notes.blogspot.co.uk/2013/07/pathways-to-sustainable-university.html

EDUCATION pathway to a Sustainable University (Part 1): curriculum content and delivery http://su-notes.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/education-pathway-to-sustainable.html

Opportunities for integrating sustainability across curricula (Part 2 of EDUCATION pathway to a Sustainable University) http://su-notes.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/opportunities-for-integrating.html

University of Planetshire approach to integrating sustainability across the curriculum (Part 3 of EDUCATION pathway to a Sustainable University) http://su-notes.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/university-of-planetshire-approach-to.html

Outputs of the University of Planetshire Approach to integrating sustainability across the curriculum (Part 4 of EDUCATION pathway to a Sustainable University) http://su-notes.blogspot.co.uk/2013/11/outputs-of-university-of-planetshire.html

Will it work? – The University of Planetshire Approach to integrating sustainability across the curriculum (Part 5 of EDUCATION pathway to a Sustainable University) http://su-notes.blogspot.co.uk/2014/01/will-it-work-university-of-planetshire.html


Related posts on The Sustainable University Diary blog (ESD reflections)

The starting point of our sustainability crisis? http://esddiary.wordpress.com/2013/06/10/the-starting-point-of-our-sustainability-crisis/

Who depends on whom? A game of plates http://esddiary.wordpress.com/2013/07/08/who-depends-on-whom-a-game-of-plates/


The suite of Sustainable University websites: Sustainable University One-stop Shop | News and Information | Research | Good Practice | Quotes | Blog | Diary | Micro-blog (@sustainableuni1 on Twitter)

‘Sharing for a Sustainable World’ #SSW on http://twitter.com/sustainableuni1 & http://uk.linkedin.com/in/asithaj/

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