Sustainability disclosure in higher education: A comparative analysis of reports and websites of public and private universities in Turkey

Semen Son-Turan*, Wim Lambrechts

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

12 Citations (Web of Science)


The purpose of this paper is to explain the extent and content of the sustainability disclosure of public and foundation (private but not-for-profit) universities in Turkey.

Subsequent to a systematic literature review of six academic databases and the National Thesis Center, a content analysis using a combination of Global Reporting Initiative and campus assessment tools from previous studies is conducted on stand-alone sustainability reports and websites of a purposive sample of eight universities in Turkey.

Infrequent and unsystematic sustainability practice done through websites seems to be more prevalent than formal reporting through international initiatives. Research and practice diverge by focusing on different sustainability indicators. Sustainability needs to be integrated into teaching and curriculum through university policies and regulations. Foundation universities show greater effort in sustainability reporting than public universities.

Research limitations/implications:
The research is limited by the availability of mostly self-reported, dispersed and unaudited data by foundation universities in addition to framework-imposed specificities. Furthermore, there is only one public university with a formal sustainability report in the sample.

Practical implications:
The findings offer suggestions for developing extra sustainability indicators and may assist local policy-makers and researchers in their efforts to improve sustainability reporting by local universities.

This comprehensive research effort is one of the few studies from a non-Western country perspective and the only study on Turkey in relation to universities and sustainability reporting.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1143-1170
Number of pages28
JournalInternational Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 6 Dec 2019


  • Content analysis
  • Global Reporting Initiative
  • Higher education
  • Sustainability reporting
  • TOOL
  • Turkey


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