Character Education


Higher Education Framework

Character Education in Universities: A Framework for Flourishing sets out the Jubilee Centre’s position on the place of character education in universities. The Framework was developed in 2020 in partnership with the Oxford Character Project. The aim of the Framework is to help universities articulate and structure their mission to further the flourishing of their students and the holistic character development that is central to it. The Framework was developed in consultation with senior university administrators and academic specialists in higher education from universities in the UK, USA, Asia and Europe.

In recent years, many universities have expressed their commitment to a holistic, socially engaged vision of higher education. Terms such as ‘fulfilling potential’, ‘flourishing’, ‘thriving’ and ‘wellbeing’, applied both to students and to university communities, feature prominently in policy documents and mission statements. Universities are increasingly talking about developing ‘graduate attributes’ and ‘21st-century skills’ – qualities necessary to navigate the fourth industrial revolution and contribute to a rapidly changing society.

Given the acknowledgment that ‘universities shape lives’ and the fact that many universities already name specific character qualities they are eager to develop in their students under the rubric of ‘graduate outcomes’, the Framework does not seek to introduce an alien concept or radically new agenda. The purpose is to provide a conceptual taxonomy that situates and contextualises the cultivation of character and the objective of student flourishing as central to higher education today.

What some universities lack, and what this Framework seeks to provide, is a philosophically rigorous and practically actionable conceptual framework. The Framework is intended to offer a perspective on character education for universities to consider, and not be treated as a blueprint for teaching character. The Framework is flexible and relevant to higher education institutions seeking to articulate their approach to character development.

Character Education in Universities: A Framework for Flourishing can be downloaded here.

Higher Education Framework
Cultivating Character in the University: Implications for Policy and Practice – Consultation

On 10th and 11th February, the Jubilee Centre and the Oxford Character Project hosted a Consultation on Cultivating Character in the University: Implications for Policy and Practice’ at Ditchley Park, Oxfordshire.

The Consultation brought together stakeholders from across the Universities sector, including senior leaders, academics, university administrators, students and policy makers, to reflect upon the role of universities in the character formation and flourishing of students, staff and their own institutions. The consultation commenced with a focus on the Character Education in Universities Framework, published in 2021 by the Jubilee Centre and the Oxford Character Project. During the consultation, participants discussed and debated how the Framework might be implemented in practice, as well as its implications for a variety of concerns and practices in universities today. The consultation concluded by identifying some important next steps for theorising, researching and implementing character education in universities.

All attending the consultation were committed to the role of universities in cultivating the character of students. While courses that prepare students for a specific profession may be viewed as the most obvious space for character in universities, throughout the consultation participants reflected on the nature and importance of character for other aspects of university life – for all subject disciplines, for student enrichment initiatives, for student outreach, support and well-being, and for the civic role of universities in their communities.

The heart of the consultation was structured around short presentations from attendees focusing on the implications of the Character Education in Universities Framework for: higher education leadership, teaching and learning, students, extra-curricular and personal development activities, and policy. While each presentation raised specific challenges for cultivating character in the university – including terminology, commitment and measurement – speakers also presented ideas about how character is cultivated currently through their work and the work of others, and how such work could be developed more widely across the sector in order that character be positioned more centrally within the work of universities and within the experiences of students in higher education.

On the basis of the insights shared and the discussions held during the consultation, the Jubilee Centre and the Oxford Character Project are developing detailed plans for the next steps of their research on character education in universities.