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Assessing Sustainability and Social Responsibility in Higher Education Assessment Frameworks Explained


In this article two different assessment tools for sustainability in higher education are being described. The first, AISHE 2012, is a framework that assesses sustainable development in higher education learning programs. Developed in 2001 and continuously developed since this assessment tool is being used by learning programs in the Netherlands and Flanders to assess their educational organization, including the curriculum, research program, management, and organization. In a practical manner, the author shares experiences from the application of this AISHE 2012 framework. Second, an overview of the developing process of the ARISE framework is given. ARISE is an assessment framework at the institutional level, based on the ISO26000 guideline, that assesses social responsibility in higher education.


  • Assessment tools
  • Sustainable development
  • Social responsibility
  • Higher education
  • Evaluation system
  • ISO 26000
  • AISHE 2012

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Fig. 1
Fig. 2


  1. 1.

    Charter for Sustainability in Universities of Applied Science in the Netherlands.

  2. 2.

    STARS; The Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System. (a self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance, mainly used in the United States) (

  3. 3.

    MEERA: My Environmental Education Evaluation Resource Assistant.

  4. 4.

    Shriberg M.’Institutional Assessment Tools for Sustainability in Higher Education. Strenghts, Weaknesses, and Implications for Practice and Theory. University of Michigan, USA.

  5. 5.

    AISHE: Auditing Instrument for Sustainability in Higher education.

  6. 6.

    ARISE: Assessing Responsibility in Sustainable Education.

  7. 7.

    Study program refers to the study program as organizational unit, including managerial, primary processes and secondary processes.

  8. 8.

    Hobéon is a consultancy and certification organization for higher education institutions.

  9. 9.

    AISHE (2001) was based on a model for quality management developed by the European Foundation for Quality Management (EFQM) and enhanced by the Dutch Institute for Quality Management (INK).

  10. 10.

    Bijzonder Kenmerk Duurzaam Hoger Onderwijs (Distinctive feature Sustainable Higher Education).

  11. 11.

    Nederlands-Vlaamse Accreditatie Organisatie (Dutch-Flemish Accreditation Organization).

  12. 12.

    NVAO Beoordelingskaders accreditatiestelsel Hoger Onderwijs Instellingstoets Kwaliteitszorg (2011).

  13. 13.

    In the Netherlands that would be mainly schools for vocational training (mbo scholen).


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Boer, P. (2013). Assessing Sustainability and Social Responsibility in Higher Education Assessment Frameworks Explained. In: Caeiro, S., Filho, W., Jabbour, C., Azeiteiro, U. (eds) Sustainability Assessment Tools in Higher Education Institutions. Springer, Cham.

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