Do sustainability practices influence university quality? A Colombian case study
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Purpose: This paper aims to know how university’s strategic managers, from botacademic and administrative systems, perceive the relationship between sustainability and accreditation as sustainability incorporation and the quality of their processes are amongst the actual challenges of universities. Design/methodology/approach: This paper opted for an inductive, exploratory study using the case study approach, including 19 in-depth interviews to administrative and academic managers in a private, high-quality certified university in Colombia. The data were assessed using the content analysis methodology. The Colombian accreditation guidelines were the base to analyse the data as accreditation is part of the quality assurance system. Findings: This paper provides empirical insights into how the implementation of sustainability in universities relates to the Colombian accreditation factors. The main links found were in the areas of the university’s social impact and organisational responsibility, which are highly relevant to graduates, external stakeholders and sustainability skills. Sustainable campus operation was associated with environmental management and improvement of the quality of the physical plant, with social and economic benefits in the long-term. Additionally, this research found a need for administrative and academic managers to understand and increase their commitment to sustainability. Research limitations/implications: Because it was a case study, results are not generalisable. Consequently, further research on similar lines is required to universalise the mentioned observation and results. Practical implications: The accreditation factors related to sustainability, inductively defined and exposed in this paper, provide an idea of how sustainability implementation could contribute to higher education quality assurance. Originality/value: This paper contributes to filling the knowledge gap about embedding sustainability in Latin-American universities. This paper postulates a starting point considering accreditation standards and the link of the strategic manager’s perceptions of sustainability. © 2020, Emerald Publishing Limited.
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