Sustainable Assessment Tools for Higher Education Institutions: Guidelines for Developing a Tool for China

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Higher education institutions (HEIs) in both early and mature stages of sustainable development (SD) have been moving toward sustainability. Methods for assessing SD have been developed from global and regional contexts to support sustainability efforts. The purpose of this paper is to formulate guidelines as input to develop a sustainable assessment tool (SAT) for China based on the current SD stage of Chinese HEIs. Through desk research, SATs were selected and analyzed. Fifteen SATs consisting of more than 1000 indicators included in the analysis and based on components for developing SATs were identified, and then the components were selected and discussed through an online workshop engaging a 34-people Chinese research team, in order to formulate the guidelines for Chinese HEIs. The findings reveal that the emphasis of SATs mainly results from their contexts, purposes and stages, backgrounds or focus. Chinese HEIs are in the early SD stage, and the multiple purposes and components of SATs are identified to support local sustainability efforts. Having a clear understanding of the current SD stages of SATs and selecting the components accordingly would enable them to fully reach their potential in practice, especially in the case of early SD HEIs.
Original languageEnglish
Article number6501
Number of pages30
Issue number16
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Characteristics
  • Chinese HEIs
  • Early sustainable development stage
  • Emphasis
  • Green campus
  • Higher education
  • Sustainable assessment tools
  • Sustainable development


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