All categories are open to any tertiary education establishment - including all post-16 year old educational institutions such as colleges, universities and learning and skills institutions globally.
Judges are allowed discretion to award up to 2 winners for each category to distinguish between large and small institution applications (measured against an annual turnover of $50 million or below). However, this will only be done when applications are of a high quality - it is not mandatory.
As anchor institutions in their communities and cities, universities and colleges benefit society in many ways. This category captures the powerful and innovative ways education institutions are realising their purpose in today’s society to benefit the lives of individuals, communities and wider society. Examples will range from economic, social and environmental impacts with organisations and sectors outside the institution where innovative new approaches to bringing positive benefit can be found.
Although all applications will be considered on their merits, the judges will particularly be looking for innovative community engagement type of initiatives which have an element of proactive, new, community and social concern and positive impacts, rather than the very worthy and commendable ‘grass roots’ and ‘business as usual’ activities. Amongst others, examples might include how an institution applies and exchanges its student and academic knowledge with communities or partner organisations, how it uses its finances and investments, how it designs and manages its campus - all to demonstrate its values and the positive value it brings to society. A powerful example of such innovative and proactive engagement is the Living Lab approach: establishing projects that draw on students’ curricular work or academic research to address real sustainability challenges in stakeholder partnerships with community bodies.
Activities which have a substantial student element should be submitted to the Student Engagement category.
Next Generation Learning and Skills - NEW FOR 2021
This category recognises achievement in the development of academic courses, skills and capabilities relevant to sustainability. These can be vocational, undergraduate or postgraduate courses or related to wider purposes such as community involvement, global or environmental awareness or to support lifestyle changes.
Examples of possible application topics include: Apprenticeships; Continuing professional development (CPD) activities; Skill-focused courses leading to professional or vocational qualifications; Informal adult learning; community learning; and short courses for practitioners; The development of new courses focused on some or all sustainable development issues; Adaptation of existing courses; Use of practical sustainability-related projects or other practical activities within courses; Work-based learning initiatives; Staff development.
Applications can be made for activities connected with academic courses if there is a practical focus on the development of specific skills which goes beyond the normal activities of the disciplinary curriculum, e.g. running community-based projects which give students considerable autonomy and develop their communication, management abilities etc.
Possible applicants for this category include: Higher Education institutions; Further Education and technical colleges; adult and community and work-based learning providers.
This category reflects that students and staff must work together to achieve goals using “top-down” and “bottom-up grass roots” methods to achieve maximum understanding and engagement across an institution. This in turn aids student progress and allows for opportunities to gain transferable employability skills. It looks at both the student input and the staff commitment and the relationship between the two. It must be clear that initiatives include both staff and students (not just one party) working in partnership.
Where staff and students are involved, as well as including the actual numbers, include how they are involved and what impact/influence they have had.
Examples could include: Social media projects; Awareness and communication campaigns; Procurement actions; Sustainability reporting and websites; Volunteering activities organised by unions, societies and similar organisations within institutions; Community projects.
Applications are equally welcomed from institutions or student bodies.
Sustainability Institution of the Year
This category recognises sustained, whole-institution commitment and impact to becoming a sustainable organisation.
To improve economic and social responsibility and environmental performance through a whole institution approach strategic sustainability activities through four main areas must be achieved:
Applications are only likely to be successful if they provide considerable quantitative evidence on the nature of the improvements made and also demonstrate a causal relationship between activities undertaken and improvements achieved based on the four areas. Initiatives must have been running for at least five years.
Judges will be looking for evidence of whole institution measuring and reporting such as the Sustainability Leadership Scorecard or equivalent.
Judges will be looking for key areas where it is felt that the institution is distinctive compared to its peers, and provide supporting evidence. Tangible evidence of high level commitment, and its incorporation into management procedures, will also carry great weight with the judges as will engagement with the UN Sustainable Development Goals and public reporting of performance.
To make a strong application please provide facts and figures to support your application and meet all the criteria within your chosen category. You should also include the following generic criteria: