8. Staff and Student Engagement
Whilst universities are directly responsible for many environmental impacts through their operations, the university community also contributes significantly to its overall environmental impact through its behaviour - for example, consumption of electricity or travel habits.
Universities that play an active role in encouraging and engaging students and staff in sustainable behaviour change will be able to make continual improvements in holistic sustainable development more smoothly, cheaply and quickly.
Engagement can have a wider and more significant impact when behaviour and values experienced by staff, students and visitors to the university begin or embed long-lasting change throughout a persons life.
1. Engagement Strategy
strategy or summary for student and staff engagement (worth 30%)
engagement activities (5% each - totalling 30%)
Why have a strategy?
People & Planet recognise that student and staff engagement and communication is often a component of other strategic work:
- Carbon Management Plan
- Sustainability Strategy
- Biodiversity Management Plan
- Community engagement plan
- Education for Sustainable Development
We also recognise that this work is often committed to and reported on within those components and sometimes within the Environmental Management System. The student and staff experience of sustainability at a university is a significant opportunity for the culture shift that we need for social and climate justice. In this criteria we are awarding universities 30% for pulling together the components of student and staff engagement into one place so that they might measure, track and continually progress this vital aspect of the university sustainable development opportunity and make this work accessible to the university community and general public.
The strategy should include the following aspects:
- Outline of the areas through which the university engages staff and students
- Baselines, or ways of measuring progress toward targets for student and staff engagement
- The student and staff engagement strategy/ plan or summary should have been updated or published within the last 5 years and be in date to score
- A mechanism for reporting on student and staff engagement and tracking progress
An implementation plan for student and staff engagement activities including:
- staff or teams responsible
- budget and resources allocated
People & Planet will look for a publicly available student and staff engagement strategy/ plan / summary (or similar name) on the university website.
Student and Staff Engagement Actions.
Score: maximum 30%
1a. Oversight and involvement opportunities of students and staff in the development and ongoing monitoring of Carbon Management Plan - 5%
- Scores can be awarded where the carbon management plan clearly states a process or structure for ongoing engagement of staff and students in the implementation and oversight of the plan or where a university website publishes updates around ongoing opportunities for engagement.
1b. Oversight and involvement opportunities of students and staff in the development and ongoing monitoring of the university environmental sustainability policy and strategy. - 5%
- Score can be awarded where the sustainability strategy clearly states a process or structure for ongoing engagement of staff and students in the implementation and oversight of the plan or where a university website publishes updates around ongoing opportunities for engagement.
1c. The university sustainability policy/plan, sustainability issues and student engagement opportunities for sustainability are a component of student induction processes. - 5%
- If universities undertake student sustainability induction through residential accommodation services, they should also demonstrate how students living in private accommodation are reached.
- People & Planet will look for evidence of student induction with sustainbility engagement on the university website
1d. University actively supports an annual Go Green Week or Environment Week. - 5%
People & Planet will find the latest event information on the university website.
1e. The university runs environmental and ethical/sustainability campaigns that reach all students and staff - 5%
People & Planet will easily find evidence of these campaigns on the university website.
1f. Availability of university funds for student or staff-led practical sustainability projects (eg. campus allotments, recycling schemes etc) - 5%
- This criteria refers to grassroots, practical projects developed and implemented by staff and students.
- The funds must be from the university rather than from student union funds - unless the university has funded the student union to be the administrator.
People & Planet will look for details of how to access the fund and of the projects started with funding and/ or other university resources.
2. All staff inductions cover university sustainability policy, issues and areas for staff engagement.
- People & Planet will look for an overview of the staff sustainability induction process currently in place and how it engages with all new staff on the university website.
3. Invitations extended to recognised Trades Union representatives by way of membership at committees to which the sustainability strategy, carbon management plan and other relevant strategic areas of sustainable development are reported.
Trades Union participation in university sustainability strategy offers a mechanism for both Trades Union input for sustainability issues and decision-making and the platform for further sustainability achievements.
- People & Planet will look for recognised Trades Union representatives within the membership of committees to which the sustainability strategy and carbon management plan and other relevant sustainable development decisions are reported.
- People & Planet would expect that where there is more than one Trades Unions recognised (i.e. academic, support and facilities staff ) the membership would include a representative from each.
- Observer membership does not count.
4. Student representation on university committees concerned with estates, planning, finance and strategic decision making.
"There is an expectation, often enshrined within the constitutional documents of HEIs, that governing bodies will contain staff and student members and encourage their full and active participation."
It is a requirement in most cases that students are represented at the governing body level of every university, therefore People & Planet will not give marks to universities for this.
We are looking for student representation above the implementation stage, yet below the university council stage. It is important that students are represented at the strategic planning, finance and resource allocation stages - in meetings where they are able to participate in strategic decision making and the shaping of the university.
- People & Planet will look for at least 2 committees with full membership positions for students.
- Student representation need not be limited to student union sabbatical officers.
- People & Planet will look for student membership on each the university governance finance committee, estates committee and other relevant strategic decision making committees.
- People & Planet will find this information on the university website.
- People & Planet will disregard student membership that is 'observer only'.
5a. Is the Students’ Union or Students’ Association working toward continual improvement for environmental sustainability by mapping, auditing and tracking annual progress of its impact areas? Score 10%
People & Planet will look for an overview of this scheme on the Student Union or university website. If the scheme used is operated by NUS, People & Planet will obtain verification directly from NUS.
As the majority of students’ union or students’ associations operate from university managed estate and facilities as part of a formal agreement, the university can support the student organisation to further sustainability improvements by providing expertise on environmental management and the analysis necessary to measure and reduce a set of impacts, e.g. energy consumption baselines and statistics, as well as resources (such as space, time or grants) for sustainability initiatives to be undertaken by or in collaboration with the university.