11 SES 16 A, Improving Higher Education With University Social Responsibility (USR)
This paper will outline the origins and development of the Benchmark Standards for University Social Responsibility (USR, 2015) across the EHEA (authored by the presenter) and offer a critical appraisal of their contribution in an era of risk. Developed as a response to ISO 26000 (the International Standards Organization’s Guidelines on Social Responsibility, 2010) and to the way in which organizations in other sectors have responded to these, the Standards were conceived of as a framework for European universities to address the Guidelines, at the same time as responding to their distinctive historic and features and in recognition of their “core business” of research, teaching, support for learning, student assessment and public engagement. In line with the values underpinning ISO 2600 on one hand and those now espoused by the EU (human rights, freedom, democracy, equality, human dignity and the rule of law) together with the transparency and accountability imperatives that come with public funding, the Standards were also conceived as a modest contribution to the democratic renewal of higher education itself in line with arguments such as those in Holmwood’s Manifesto for a Public University (2011) or Monbiot’s imperative of “the community owning the system” (2017). In the few years since the first edition of the Standards, the still ongoing failures to address the causes of the “crash” of 2008, mass migration and the attendant resurgence of the far right all require that universities enhance the distinctive contribution they make through their socially responsible activities. How can the Standards support this?
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Network 1. Continuing Professional Development: Learning for Individuals, Leaders, and Organisations
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