Integrated Reporting and Education for Sustainability Project






Unibo structure involved: Department of Management - DiSA
Scientific manager: Selena Aureli
Unibo Team: Monica Bartolini, Federica Farneti and staff from CESIA (for the MOOC implementation)
Project Web page:
Erasmus+ Action type: Cooperation for innovation and the exchange of good practices Strategic Partnerships for higher education
Project reference: 2020-1-NL01-KA203-064697
Start Date: 1 September 2020
End Date: 31 August 2023
Budget:      Total: € 417,050      UNIBO: € 105,992 



In Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) there is a knowledge and skills gap in regard to accounting and reporting on non-financial information. This gap needs to be bridged to make the upcoming financial professionals futureproof and well prepared for the demands of regulators and small and medium sized companies. The INTEGRES partners shared this observation. They independently analysed different skills gaps in their courses on disclosure of non-financial information in their business and accounting curriculum. They concluded a lack of useful educational sources and tools. Therefore the main objective of INTEGRES is to develop educational material for bachelor and master business and accounting students about Integrated Reporting (IR) and disclosure of non-financial information for SMEs in order to prepare the students for their future work as IR business advisors in Europe.

Nowadays, Economical, Social and Governmental issues have become an integral part of the daily public debate in Europe. Accounting firm Deloitte stated that “heightened regulatory and legal scrutiny, along with other market developments, indicates that the transparency and accuracy of sustainability reporting is increasingly important”.

A traditional annual report containing only financial information is not sufficient anymore to meet the demands in society. Stakeholders demand more non-financial information and transparency from companies.

The EU directive (2014/95/EU) is a response to this trend. It requires large companies to disclose information on the way they operate and manage social and environmental challenges. This helps all stakeholders to evaluate the total performance of large companies and encourages these companies to develop a responsible approach to business. Although the fact that the directive applies only to large companies, it is expected that it will be of interest even for the smaller companies (SME's) , which operate as subcontractors of larger companies . These SMEs are the backbone of the European economy.

The inclusion of non-financial information in reports requires professionals to act and think beyond financial issues. However, the current business professionals are often educated as purely financial experts and lack the skills and knowledge to report on non-financial information. The new way of working requires (future) financial professionals to evolve towards highly educated experts in reporting financial and non-financial information.

Today, there are many (academic) models and theories about disclosing non-financial information available for large companies like the framework IR. However there is a lack of frameworks and guidelines, (case) studies related to SMEs. Without good examples and applicable theories, business schools struggle with methods on how to include non-financial reporting in their curricula. Currently, the curriculum in business schools in Europe is focused on financial reporting. As a result, graduates lack skills related to non-financial reporting, such as critical thinking, and miss an antenna for future risks related to sustainable and societal developments.

The INTEGRES partners are aware of these gaps. Based on input from students, accounting firms and SMEs they will create applicable educational material on how to use IR and how to disclose non-financial information for SMEs. They will develop an international module of 5 courses (30 credits) containing issues like SDGs and IR, KPIs and IR and cases. The core parts of the courses will be available via and Open Education Resources (OER).

During the project the INTEGRES partners organise two Intense Study Programs. Students and lecturers from the 5 universities will meet and have an intercultural discussion and test the developed courses.

The courses will be part of the future regular bachelor and master business and accounting curricula. The educational material and the OER is available for all bachelor and master business and accounting students.

All the experiences, interviews with SMEs and models will be bundled in a handbook to inform and educate other students and also SMEs and small accounting and audit firms.

In the end of the project the INTEGRES partners organise an international conference for all the stakeholders to inform about the outcomes.

The developed educational material, OER and handbook by the INTEGRES partners will help Universities (UAS) to educate skilled financial experts (students and teachers) who possess competences related to disclosing financial and non-financial information. Moreover, the INTEGRES project will provide students and teachers with intercultural awareness regarding IR, experiences in international cooperation, networking and language skills. The project will deliver future proof financial professionals to help SMEs in their sustainability transition.