Following the publication of the new QAA ES3 Benchmark in March 2022, the Community for Environmental Disciplines in Higher Education (CEDHE) Committee set out to understand what the key changes to the benchmark standard were, and how they could be effectively integrated into ES3 subject programmes. The Committee decided an effective way to disseminate this information to the wider HE community was through their annual forum. On Tuesday 24th May 2022, a range of practitioners joined together and engaged in collaborative group discussions around the new standard, and how the strengthened focus of Sustainability, Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) and Employability and Entrepreneurship could be embedded in programmes. The videos of all the sessions are available on the IES YouTube channel.
It was only fitting that the next programme of work for the Committee was to embed these new standards into the CEDHE/IES accreditation criteria. Currently the CEDHE/IES accreditation scheme provides a mark of quality to over 140 Honours and Masters programmes in fifty UK and international Higher Education and Further Education institutions.
In January 2023 the updated CEDHE/IES accreditation documentation was published, and is now available to download and use from the CEDHE website. Whilst the accreditation already had a strong focus on EDI and employability, a key addition is the inclusion of criteria relating to Education for Sustainable Development in both the “Programme” and “Environmental Professional Practice” sections of the application. Another fundamental shift has been to combine the International and UK accreditation application. This is of particular note to international applicants who now have to consider how they approach EDI within their programmes and in preparing their students for professional practice. CEDHE are committed to accrediting environmental science programmes that strive to be inclusive and accessible for all learners, that reflect the diversity that exists within society, and provide equal opportunities. The Committee believe this is vital for the achievement of the internationally agreed Sustainable Development Goals included in the 2030 Agenda.
To support our education community, CEDHE have also published a guidance document highlighting the Key Changes to the ES3 Benchmark Standards. The updated Accreditation Information also gives additional guidance on how the new benchmark standards can be translated to meet the accreditation criteria.