Sustainability: a selling point for students

BUSINESS PROFESSORS suggest that there has been a dramatic change in the way business students value sustainability issues.

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In the past, business students have been focused on maximising shareholder value, short-term profits, with a focus on individual businesses. In fact, Matthew Gitsham, director of Business and Sustainability at Ashridge Business School, says it used to be “painful” to teach sustainability issues in schools.


However, sustainability is increasingly being perceived by students as a vital component to the curriculum as they become more aware of the importance of studying the economy as a whole. Gitsham even suggests that it is now considered as a selling point for business courses, as he says: “The shift in student attitudes over the last 10 years has been phenomenal.”


“We know that some people choose us specifically because we have a focus on this area. Some of them do so because they see the importance of the issue to today’s businesses, while others are coming at it from a values point of view.”


Business courses are now being assessed by accrediting bodies on their sustainability credentials. Organisations such as European Quality Improvement System (EQUIS), Association of MBAs (AMBA) and Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) now require business schools to include sustainability as part of the syllabus.


Students’ attitude towards sustainability is also moulded by the fact that sustainability is becoming increasingly embedded into business practice. Andy Cartland, co-founder of sustainability-focused recruitment company, Acre, adds: “It is being seen as a skill that people can’t do without. If we are not addressing these issues at business schools, we won’t capture the huge opportunities that sustainability issues create.”


The Footprint Forum recently congregated in association with TUCO to discuss Ethics in Education. Click Here for full report