The title of this posting comes from the very recent grant letter to the Higher Education Funding Council for England (2012 / 13). It comes from para 22, which says:
The HE sector has made good progress in recent years on environmental issues. You should continue to support institutions in their efforts to improve their sustainability.
That's it. It's all you get. I know it's a mistake to do too much textual criticism of government papers, but "improve their sustainability"! What sort of understanding of what HE has been doing these last few years does that imply? An imperfect one at least.
Meanwhile, Tim Melville-Ross, Chair of HEFCE's Board, has said said:
"In challenging financial times, we will focus our efforts on supporting activity which is in the student and wider public interest: providing resource, in line with the priorities set out in the letter, where it is most needed. We welcome the Secretary of State's recognition of the crucial part that universities and colleges are playing to support economic recovery."
So that's two of them playing down sustainability. Inevitable, of course, in the unjoined-up way we think about things.
Whatever happened to the green economy and all those sunny uplands ...