Most students want sustainable development as part of all university courses, survey reveals


Students canvassed around the world have shown clearly that they want to learn more about sustainability and see their institutions taking action too.

The survey began in 2010-11, when the National Union of Students of the United Kingdom (NUS-UK) began asking students studying in the UK about their experiences of and expectations for education for sustainable development at their universities. The research, carried out over 8 years, consistently found that students expect their universities to be taking action for sustainable development, both in terms of their own impacts but also in terms of the teaching provided to students. 

After those findings the NUS decided to take the survey a step further to find out if students at universities around the world felt the same. During the spring of 2018, partnerships were formed with a number of international organizations to run an online survey, with 3247 students from around the world responding. The research found:

  • 91% say they agree their place of study should actively incorporate and promote sustainable development
  • 70% would like to see sustainable development incorporated and promoted through all courses
  • 81% say sustainable development is something they would like to learn more about
  • 25% say sustainable development hasn't been covered at all by their course
  • 17% rate their university as 'very good' in relation to the action it takes to limit the negative impact it has on the environment and society
  • 61% would accept a salary 15% lower than average to work in a company with a good social and environmental record
  • 93% say governments from across the world should do whatever it takes to address climate change
  • 25% say they have never heard of the Sustainable Development Goals

You can read the full report here.

The NUS-UK is a recipient of the 2016 UNESCO-Japan Prize on Education for Sustainable Development and a Key Partner of the UNESCO Global Action Programme on ESD. It is the representative body for the UK’s 7 million students in tertiary education and has a strong sustainability presence in the sector in the UK, running a number of programmes and projects that engage students, their students’ unions and their institutions in taking action on the topic. The NUS works to ensure students leave tertiary education with the knowledge, skills and understanding required to make the world a better place.