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8. Staff and Student Engagement

The university community contributes significantly to its overall environmental ans social impact.

Universities that play an active role in 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. staff and student Engagement Strategy

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. 

People & Planet recognise that engagement work could be committed to and reported on within the Environmental Management System. 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 vision, the targets and progress accessible to the university community and general public.

Does the university publish a strategy for student and staff engagement in sustainable development?

Score - 30%

People & Planet recognise that student and staff engagement and communication is often a component of other strategic work:

e.g

  • Carbon Management Plan

  • Sustainability Strategy

  • Biodiversity Management Plan

  • Community engagement plan

  • Education for Sustainable Development


Clarifications:

The strategy should include the following aspects:

  • Outline of the areas through which the university engages or proposes to engage staff and students for sustainable development
  • 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
  • A mechanism for reporting on student and staff engagement and tracking progress
  • An implementation plan for student and staff engagement activities including:
  1. staff or teams responsible

  2. budget and resources allocated

  3. targets and time-frames

  • 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. Does the university offer oversight and involvement opportunities to students and staff for the development and ongoing monitoring of the university Carbon Management Plan? - 5%

Clarifications:

  • The Carbon Management Plan should clearly state a process or structure for ongoing engagement of staff and students in the implementation and oversight of the plan
  • People & Planet will look for evidence of ongoing and recent engagement on the university website

1b. Does the university offer oversight and involvement opportunities to students and staff for the development and ongoing monitoring of the university environmental sustainability policy and strategy? - 5%

Clarifications:

  • The sustainability strategy should clearly state a process or structure for ongoing engagement of staff and students in the implementation and oversight of the plan
  • People & Planet will look for evidence of ongoing and recent engagement on the university website

1c. Are the university sustainability policy and strategy and other student engagement opportunities for sustainability a component of every student induction? - 5%

Clarifications

  • If universities conduct student induction through residential accommodation services, they should also demonstrate how students living in private accommodation are reached.
  • People & Planet will look for evidence on the university website

1d. Does the university actively support an annual Go Green Week or Environment Week. - 5%

  • People & Planet will look for evidence of activity within the last 12 months on the university website.

1e. Does the university support local community partnerships with staff and students to improve sustainability? - 5%

  • People & Planet will look on the university website for evidence of a policy or plan or recent project that commits the university to support staff and student partnerships with local communities for sustainable development.

1f. Does the university make funds available for student or staff-led practical sustainability projects  - 5%

Clarifications:

  • 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 - unless the university has funded the student union to be the administrator of the funds
  • People & Planet will look for details of how to access the fund and of the projects currently funded within the last 12 months

Staff Inductions

2. Do all staff inductions cover university sustainability policy, strategy and areas for staff to engage?

Score 10%

Clarifications:

  • People & Planet will look on the university website for an overview of the staff sustainability induction process currently in place and how it engages with all new staff.

Trade Union engagement

3. Are 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?

Score 10%

  • 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.


Clarifications:

  • 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.

 

Student representation

 

4. Is there student representation on university committees concerned with estates, planning, finance and strategic decision making?

Score - 10%

Clarifications:

"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."

Committee of University Chairs Code of Governance for Universities.

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'.

 

Students’ Union

5. 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

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.

Signposts:

What’s my Student Union Doing?

Green Impact Students’ Union

Students for Co-operation

Green Impact Universities and Colleges