Royal College of Art becomes 6th specialist UK university to divest
Today, the Royal College of Art (‘RCA’) has announced that it is divesting its £26.7 million investment portfolio from fossil fuel companies.
The RCA’s commitment makes it the 101st university in the UK to go Fossil Free and comes following ongoing negotiations with the university, led by the RCA branch of the University and College Union.
The RCA’s announcement makes them the 6th specialist university in the UK to divest. Specialist universities are institutions focussed on education and expertise in one particular specialism. RCA’s commitment means that 35% of universities with specialist status have now taken this meaningful action in line with climate and social justice. Given the focus of these institutions and their strong links with the professions and industries they’re preparing students for, divestment commitments could have far-reaching impacts and implications for the just transition to a low-carbon world.
Building on from this achievement, campaigners are now calling on the RCA to exclude oil, gas and mining companies from careers recruitment on campus. This is part of the UK-wide Fossil Free Careers campaign, which sees students demanding their universities implement an Ethical Careers Policy that excludes fossil fuel industry recruitment. Fossil Free Careers has already seen four UK universities end oil, gas and mining recruitment on campus, including University of the Arts, London, and students across the UK continue to push for action from their own universities.
Laura Clayson, Co-Director: Climate Justice at People & Planet said:
“It is amazing to witness the Royal College of Art commit to the full exclusion of fossil fuel companies and it has been a privilege to work so closely with the RCA UCU branch who have led this work. Specialist institutions have a vital role to play in supporting society to consider and explore alternative worlds and visions of the future. Given this, it feels especially important that the RCA have acknowledged their role in building towards a world premised on solidarity with communities on the frontlines of climate impacts and fossil fuel extraction. We look forward to the RCA deepening this commitment by adopting an Ethical Careers Policy next.”
Sally O’Reilly, Green Representative for the Royal College of Art branch of the University and College Union, said: ‘RCA UCU is thrilled with the college’s recent divestment from the fossil fuel industry. It is a substantial step in mitigating climate change effects, and towards a low-carbon society. We are also excited to be working with the college on a new strategy for all aspects of sustainability throughout the college.’
Paul Thompson, Vice-Chancellor of the RCA said: 'Adopting our Responsible Investment Policy is a major step on the RCA's journey towards net zero, and we are committed to doing much more to support action on biodiversity and climate.'