< back

University of Strathclyde & Strathclyde Union case study - Survey distribution

Case Study

June 29, 2023

No items found.

SOS-UK Sustainability Skills Survey distribution

Overview of initiative/action

The University of Strathclyde and the Students' Union have long wanted to establish a deeper understanding of student perspectives on sustainability. However,  we had never been able to secure more than c100 responses to the annual SOS Sustainability Skills Survey, so we never had a representative nor meaningful sample.

The Strathclyde Partnership had great success distributing the SOS-UK Sustainability Skills Survey to students in October and November 2022. In the previous year we had been unable to meet to 100 response threshold, but through a coordinated approach we were able to secure over 800 responses – the second highest number of responses nationally out of the 65 institutions surveyed.

Our approach in 2022 was varied and involved student interns working in the Centre for Sustainable Development, the University’s surveys team and Strath Union, where efforts were overseen by the Sustainability Coordinator.

The surveys team were concerned about over-surveying and were reluctant to promote the survey via University-wide email, which was a problem when it came to last year’s response rate. Instead, this year they assisted with promotion by including the survey in advert slots on our VLE. The decision to include an incentive this year also boosted the response rate; a cash prize of £500 was on offer to participating students.

Impact of initiative

By gaining a statistically significant sample we have been able to gain an understanding of our students’ view of sustainability, employability and skills development. This is relevant to several key strategic areas and has been of interest to a number of teams, aiding collaboration between our ESD Working Group, Centre for Sustainable Development, Careers and Employability Service, Sustainable Strathclyde and entrepreneurship initiative Strathclyde Inspire. These groups are coming together to explore how they can work together on mutually beneficial areas of work, with the survey results providing a useful focal point.

The data has been presented to staff at Faculty level in order to demonstrate the significant student demand for sustainability in the curriculum across all disciplines. So far this has been presented to the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences’ (HaSS) ,Faculty Learning Enhancement Committee (FLEC) and soon to the Chemistry department, faculty of Science. The survey report was received with interest, and colleagues then shared ways that the Faculty looks to engage with our current ESD provision in both the formal and informal curriculum. As a result Committee members expressed interest in taking part in a Climate Fresk workshop, which is offered as part of the Strathclyde Climate Education Kick-Off (Strath CEKO) and organised by the Strathclyde Climate Ambassador’s Network (SCAN); Strath CEKO recently won the 2022 UK and Ireland Green Gown Award for Student Engagement and is one of 5 shortlisted for the international award. Strath CEKO is open to all staff and students and workshops take place regularly throughout the year. The School of Education and the Department of Pure and Applied Chemistry have also embedded Climate Fresk as a curricular activity.

A full report will soon go to our Executive Team where we hope that the results will help steer Strathclyde’s 2030 Strategy, which is currently undergoing consultation. In particular, we aim to advocate for a strong focus on student sustainability skills development in the strategy.

Role that RF criteria/programme has played in this initiative

The Strathclyde Partnership’s first Responsible Futures audit has just taken place, and the SOS-UK Survey was a key element of our Baselines and Benchmarks evidence. The Responsible Futures programme therefore incentivised a more coordinated approach to survey distribution than we had previously managed to achieve.

The Responsible Futures Criteria:

  • BB001 – Within the last two years, the Partnership has completed an institution-wide survey of students on their attitudes towards and expectations on sustainability and published the findings.

Additional Comments

The SOS-UK survey data, which included over 100 multiple choice questions, was analysed and translated into a Strathclyde-centric written report. This report is intended to provide evidence of Strathclyde student-demand for sustainability skills and competencies to be embedded in the university’s education strategy, including both curricular and extra-curricular activities. Over 90% of Strathclyde students indicated they would like to see the university actively promote and incorporate sustainability in everything it does, and a further 83% wished to see sustainability embedded in their curriculum. The student response also highlighted a steady increase in awareness of the challenges related to sustainability in comparison with previous years. Students indicated that they thought these skills were of importance to future employment prospects, and so sustainability and employability are linked here. This has enhanced the efforts of Strathclyde staff to link up sustainability, employability and entrepreneurship activities and further indicates the need to embed sustainability in everything we do.

A picture containing text, screenshot, aqua, fontDescription automatically generated
Graphic used to promote survey

Click here to access a post made by Strath Union to promote the survey.