When will the next league table be published?

The 2024/25 People & Planet University League is planned to be published at the end of 2024, but will depend on confirmation with our media partner.

When will the methodology for 2024/25 be published?

The 2024/25 criteria is now on the website.

When will you next assess universities?

The 2024/25 People & Planet University League will be assessed in July and August 2024. Sections are assessed in phases and will follow the timetable below:

July 8th-July 26th- Ethical Investment and Banking, Staff and Student Engagement, Education for Sustainable Development

July 22nd-9th August-Sustainable Food, Staff & HR, Environmental Policy and Strategy

August 5th-23rd August- Managing Carbon, Workers’ Rights, Ethical Careers and Recruitment, Environmental Management and Auditing

How do I receive your University League updates?

Register as one of our university staff key contacts: We will need your: Name - Email - University name - Job title - Phone number.

Send these details to: universityleague@peopleandplanet.org

What if I believe there are errors or missing information?

The league is based on publicly available data at the time the research is conducted (July August 2024 for the 2024/25 ranking); it is a snap-shot in time and scores will not be changed in this year's league based on information received or published subsequently.

There will be an appeals periodon the dates below when key contacts from the universities will receive access links and be able to view and appeal their assessments.

• 5th August-23rd August: Appeal window for Staff and Student Engagement, Education for Sustainable Development and Ethical Investment and Banking.

• August 19th-6th September Appeal window for Sustainable Food, Staff & HR, and Policy and Strategy.

• 2nd September-20th September. Appeal window for Managing Carbon, Workers’ Rights, Environmental Auditing and Management Systems and Ethical Careers and Recruitment.

Can I buy the full data set?

Yes, you can purchase the full data set through ourBadges and Consultancy.

Can I buy the 'badge' artwork?

Yes, you can buy bespoke artwork with your university name and place in the league table or class of degree award through our Badges and Consultancy.

Which universities are ranked?

Every UK university that has approved fee cap status and degree awarding powers. For the 2024/25 People & Planet University League, any university that was not included in 2022/23 must also be registered with Universities UK. We do not rank 'umbrella' higher education organisations such as NCG, Grŵp Llandrillo Menai, or universities that do not have degree awarding powers in their own right. Universities must be able to set their own internal institutional policies in order to be included.

How are universities assessed?

Since 2007, People & Planet have been scoring universities using a set of criteria that investigates their environmental and ethical commitments and actions. Each criteria section adds up to 100% - a bit like a university exam. We refer to this as ‘the methodology’.

The methodology is split into two branches: Performance and policy.

‘Performance’ sections are Energy Sources, Carbon Reduction, Waste and Recycling and Water Reduction, the data for which is taken directly from the Higher Education Statistics Agency Estates Management Record (HESA EMR) and total 38% of the overall score. If universities submit their external environmental management audit to HESA, they can score a further 10% for performance, however if they choose to run an internal audit and publish the results they can only score an additional 3% for performance. In this way, the performance section can be worth 41% or 48% depending on whether universities report their environmental management audits to HESA.

The remaining ‘policy’ sections are based on information made public by the university itself, such as policy documents and webpages. Universities that do not make their environmental information public online aren’t likely to score very highly - if we can’t find the information, the institution will score zero. Likewise, universities that do not submit estates data to HESA are unlikely to perform well in the ranking.

Is the methodology published?

Yes, each year People & Planet publish the full methodology on this website, complete with available scores and weighting of scores.

What are the weightings?

The weightings are the amount of % that the section is worth within the full methodology. Weightings are described in thetable and also next to each section heading: it says “worth X %”

What questions are in the methodology?

We ask questions covering 14 sustainability topics; including carbon reduction, student and staff engagement, sustainable food, workers rights, ethical investment and education for sustainability.

The full methodology is published on this website. Please use the tabs on the left hand side of the Methodology web pages to navigate each section.

Are the questions the same every year?

Most of the methodology looks the same from year to year. However, the questions are reviewed and developed over time to respond to changes in policy, environmental science, HE sector requirements and the evolution of norms and legislation around human rights and other social justice issues. Between January-March 2024 we consulted sustainability staff at universities and asked for their feedback on our methodology and listened to suggested changes. We were encouraged by these comments and they have been used to inform the 2024/25 People & Planet University League Methodology.

Key Methodology Additions

For the 2024/25 edition of the People & Planet University League we have added a question in the Managing Carbon section, on whether universities have a policy to reduce emissions from business travel. This question builds on action that was already taking place at universities, and as such is a good example of the University League recognising and rewarding innovations within the sector. Thanks to the sustainability staff who took part in the consultation and to the Flying Less group for their collaboration in developing the question.

Following our feedback and consultation with representatives from universities we have made the following additions based on university suggestions:

  • Removal of the question on publication of sustainability department budget from the Staff & HR section.

  • Acceptance of Carbon Literacy certification in question 3 of Staff & HR.

  • Expansion of accepted engagement activities beyond Go Green Week in Staff and Student Engagement.

  • We now accept Green Impact rather than Green Impact Student Unions by SOS-UK as it is a more comprehensive assessment of universities in Staff and Student Engagement.

  • Points are now available for being awarded working towards status for Responsible Futures by SOS-UK

Since 2010 the People & Planet University League has assessed its carbon reduction section using the HEFCE target of a 43% reduction in scope 1 and 2 carbon emissions by 2020/21 from a 2005/6 baseline. For the 2024/25 edition we will continue to assess universities on their progress towards the same trajectory of 2.87% per year.

NB Following feedback, some questions have been reworded or the % value of questions or sections has been changed, so please be sure to read the methodology carefully before updating websites and don’t assume it is identical to 2023/24.

Are any changes confirmed for the 2025/26 Methodology?

Currently, People & Planet run two research projects, which result in:

  1. The University League - conducted in the summer months and based on publicly available evidence on institutional websites and the HESA Estates Management Record

  2. Fossil Free scorecards - based on biannual investments research through Freedom of Information requests and conducted during the first term of the academic year

Starting from the 2025/26 edition of the People & Planet University League, these two pieces of research will be brought together in the form of new ‘accountability’ criteria in the University League. Points will be awarded for having investments that match the commitments made in institutional ethical investment policies, i.e. no fossil fuel companies are found for universities that have fossil fuel exclusions in investment policies and should have completed divestment by the time of marking. This will allow the People & Planet University League to act as an accountability tool, both ensuring that divestment commitments made by institutions are fulfilled within the timeframe stated at announcement and making it a more reliable assessment of ethical investment practices.

At the time of writing we can confirm that University League research will continue to take place on the usual timeline. Further information on the investment research timeline and what will be expected of you will be shared once it has been confirmed. No action is currently required from universities on this and it will not affect scoring as part of the 2024/25 edition of the University League.

Is there a survey to fill in, or, will we receive an FOI?

No, neither. All data is gathered from third parties or from information publicly available on the university’s website.

Please note we will not accept emails directing us to links on the university website. In the interests of transparency, it is important our researchers navigate the university pages unguided. The only place to signpost to documents or information missed by our researchers is the appeals process.

I need extra support with this / I have some questions

People & Planet are a small charity dedicated to supporting a UK-wide network of students. It does mean that our mostly part-time staff team are unable to provide universities with substantial support unless this work is resourced financially. We'll endeavour to respond to simple University League enquiries via email on: universityleague@peopleandplanet.org - but more involved support would need to be resourced through paid consultancy time. If you would like us to deliver an introductory webinar to your staff team or have internal documents audited then please review our consultancy services.

Who writes the methodology?

People & Planet put together the methodology with advice and support from leading organisations working on environmental and social justice issues. Expert university staff and professionals working to improve sustainability in Higher Education have taken part in questionnaires to help develop our criteria.

The People & Planet University League is developed organically in consultation with our student members and is proud to follow a student-led definition of sustainability.

How does this all take place?

Assessment will take place in summer 2024, and universities will be told the exact dates in May 2024. A team of People & Planet staff and trained volunteers evaluate every university and allocate scores for each question depending on the evidence that is publicly available for each university.

The universities’ provisional assessments are marked twice to maintain rigor and consistency, and universities are given the opportunity to review their scores and appeal against any marking decisions if they believe an error has been made - we call this the “appeals phase”. People & Planet review every appeal and make case by case decisions on each appeal.

Finally, the scores are added together and each university is ranked in the order of their total percentage score. The highest scoring university is ranked top of the People & Planet University League!

What is the criteria for the Estates Management Record (EMR)?

Sections on Energy Sources, Waste and Recycling, Carbon Reduction and Water Reduction are taken purely from the EMR dataset. The section titled Environmental Auditing and Management Systems is also taken from the EMR but scores can still be achieved if universities publish audits online. Use of EMR data came as a result of calls from the higher education sector to use more of the Estates Management Record to satisfy our data collection.

If my institution hasn't submitted data to HESA, can we still score?

One of the key aims of the People & Planet University League is to encourage and incentivise UK universities to be transparent and accountable on their environmental performance. In line with other sector-wide bodies such as the EAUC and AUDE, we strongly disagree with the EMR data no longer being statutory, and were encouraged to see that the vast majority of the sector continued submitting EMR data in 2023, despite its non-mandatory status. For that reason, we have decided to score universities which do not submit HESA data as having a zero in questions taken from the HESA EMR record.

This does not exclude your institution from our ranking, but it is likely to have a significant impact on the institution's overall score and position within the ranking.

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