The ESSA project was a three year Erasmus+ funded project aiming to understand more about social responsibility and sustainability in universities across Europe, in a way that enhances the student experience and graduate attributes. Students were trained to audit participating universities against the Benchmark Standards for University Social Responsibility across the European Higher Education Area and were eligible to receive a Certificate in Social Responsibility Auditing. University social responsibility was used as a focus for creating a more flexible approach to student learning, assessment and certification.
A series of open educational resources (OERs) have been developed by the project consortium, which, co-ordinated by NUS, included the University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh University Students' Association, Kaunas University of Technology, Kaunas University of Technology Students' Union, University of Porto, the Association of Students of the Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences of the University of Porto, and the European Students' Union. Each resource has been designed to complement the others, enabling the delivery of a social responsibility audit within any higher education institution in Europe and completion of the Certificate in Social Responsibility Auditing by student participants (5 ECTS credits, EQF level 6).
There are four key elements to the OERs:
Feedback from student participants on their experiences of the project has been overwhelmingly positive, with 90% saying they were satisfied or very satisfied with the project. For many, the source of this satisfaction was the real-world learning approach adopted by the project, along with the assesssment process which focuses on reflective learning.
"This has been the best experience of my university education, the learning approach was practical and very beneficial!" ESSA student auditor.