Environmental Accounting projects add up to enhanced employability

Social and Environmental Accounting students with Heriot-Watt staff

Students from the Social and Environmental Accounting undergraduate course were awarded a series of cash prizes for their innovative sustainability reports aimed at exploring social and environmental issues around the future development of the University's Edinburgh Campus.

The students used data to produce a series of Social and Environmental Reports on sustainability as a major part of their course assessment. Working in teams, the students collaborated together to produce the reports before jointly presenting them to a committee of experts from the School of Management and Languages. The best reports received prizes sponsored by international savings and investment company, Standard Life, and via the Quality Enhancement Agency's (QAA)  current Enhancement Theme, 'Developing and Supporting the Curriculum'.

Developing team work

Dr Thereza Sales De Aguiar, Lecturer in Accountancy, who set up the course, envisaged that this type of assessment would benefit the students in two ways. She said, "In producing the sustainability reports, the students learnt about social and environmental issues by working on a real case scenario: their own University. At the same time, the exercise required them to practice their written and oral communication skills and develop team working abilities, all of which will contribute to their employability when they graduate and move into the workplace in Scotland and beyond."

The students learnt about social and environmental issues by working on a real case scenario: their own University

Dr Thereza Sales De Aguiar, Lecturer in Accountancy

Prize-winning student, Christopher Ryan, explains: "The report allowed us to examine, in detail, the facts about Heriot-Watt University's social and environmental impact. The results from this analysis demonstrate the positive correlation between the measures that have been put in place, both environmentally and socially, over the last  five years and the positive outcomes that have occurred."

Employability, Scholarship and Education Enhancement

The Heriot-Watt Social and Environmental Report assessment exercise forms part of a larger project on 'Employability, Scholarship and Education Enhancement' currently run across the University with dedicated funding from the QAA. Academic staff are working with colleagues from the Careers Service and the Library, on a variety of new, interdisciplinary learning and teaching projects.

Potential synergies between the projects will be further fostered via joint meetings of Heriot-Watt's Enhancement Theme Group supported by Academic Enhancement.

Commenting on the progress of the projects, Dr Ruth Neiland, Head of Academic Enhancement said, "The Social and Environmental Accounting Report project is an excellent example of how introducing a novel assessment exercise can enhance students' learning experience and provide additional opportunities to hone valuable employability skills for the development of their future careers. Colleagues leading the Enhancement Theme projects across the University are to be commended for their initiative and drive in taking these projects forward and sharing good practice in embedding innovative approaches to curriculum development. "