Keywords: sustainability, university management, higher education, competition, UK universities, competitive advantage, sustainable communities, sustainable development, United Kingdom
Sustainability as competitive advantage in higher education in the UK
This paper draws on a series of five ESRC-funded seminars held between 2006 and 2008 on 'Sustainability as competitive advantage in higher education in the UK'. We sketch the background to sustainability in HE, distinguishing between teaching about and for sustainability and arguing that the move to latter has prompted questions about the sustainability performance of universities themselves. We outline the rationale for the seminar series - an analysis of the degree to which the reluctance of senior managers to embrace sustainability can be overcome by the promise of competitive advantage - and then discuss the lessons we learned from the seminars regarding the successful implementation of sustainability strategies in HEIs. We then analyse what 'establishing competitive advantage' in the HE sector might entail, generically and offer some suggestions as to what a specific instantiation of this might look like, guided by the idea of creating 'sustainable communities'.