Do European quality assurance frameworks support integration of transformative learning for sustainable development in higher education?

Lise Janssens, Tom Kuppens, Ingrid Mulà, Egle Staniskiene, Anne B. Zimmermann
2022 International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education  
Purpose A transition toward sustainable development requires engagement of university students in transformative learning. Therefore, quality frameworks and processes should support deep approaches to sustainable development in higher education. Research and initiatives that connect sustainable development, higher education and quality assurance (QA) are lacking. This study aims to explore to what extent quality assurance agencies in Europe support transformative learning for sustainable
more » ... ment in their frameworks. Design/methodology/approach The authors conducted a qualitative analysis of national QA frameworks in the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) to assess whether they support transformative learning for sustainable development. First, frequency analysis was undertaken; second, a blended coding approach was used to investigate whether and how transformative learning for sustainable development is addressed. Findings Overall, the authors found little support for transformative learning for sustainable development in most QA frameworks. One exception is the framework of the United Kingdom, which includes a specific guide on education for sustainable development wherein transformative learning is prominently mentioned. To a lesser extent, some support exists in the frameworks of Estonia, Holy See, Romania, Sweden, Switzerland and Ukraine. Although the transformative learning for sustainable development approach is not explicitly mentioned in most QA frameworks, many of them contain opportunities to highlight it. France and The Netherlands offer guidelines and criteria for acquiring a sustainable development label, while Andorra suggests including the sustainable development goals in institutional quality assessment. Originality/value The research provides the first map of how countries within the EHEA support transformative learning for sustainable development in national QA systems.
doi:10.1108/ijshe-07-2021-0273 fatcat:is2qtmbylnclhirwea2ftepz2i