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How does higher education create value? Yildiz Technical University’s journey to integrated reporting

Posted 29 June, 2021

Yıldız Technical University, with its 108 years of history, is one of Turkey’s largest technical universities. In line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the university has taken on the responsibility to improve the sustainability of universities in Turkey.

Yıldız Technical University has used the development of its Integrated Annual Report to achieve this and understand better how the university creates value. With the help of the International <IR> Framework, the university has developed its strategy to reflect its dependence on multiple capitals (human, intellectual, manufactured, natural, financial and social) and has embedded a systematic approach to identifying broader risks and opportunities.

The university’s first integrated report aims to bring its performance on material sustainable development issues to the attention of all stakeholders based on an integrated thinking approach. These issues are determined through the findings of stakeholder surveys, as well as the strategic objectives of the University and the relevant SDGs (quality education – SDG4, decent work and economic growth – SDG8, industry, innovation and infrastructure – SDG8). It aims to deliver a holistic assessment of the financial and non/pre-financial performance of the year. As well as the <IR> Framework, the report uses the GRI Standards: ‘Core Implementation’, the education sector guide of the SASB Standards and the principles of the UN Global Compact and the SDGs.

Yıldız Technical University has a scientific approach to education, research and human needs. It aims to educate qualified, questioning, problem-solving individuals who produce and disseminate value adding projects. These studies include global-scale projects for the scientific, technological, economic, social and cultural development of society. This focus is highlighted in the University’s value creation model and purpose statement.

The main duties of universities are to train qualified individuals and to produce research outcomes. However, their duties are not limited to this. Universities are also responsible for nurturing new knowledge and skills necessary for innovative solutions against the challenges of sustainable development. Universities are educating the leaders of the future that will create value by developing new strategies to achieve the SDGs.

The University has found that, to act as a compass for achieving the SDGs, it is vital to internalise integrated thinking that gets to the heart of which capitals they use and rely on to create value over the short, medium and long term.