The University spends roughly £24 million annually on goods and services and seeks to manage its assets responsibly, so responsible financial decisions are critical for impact in sustainability. Our aim is to contribute to local economies and support social and global justice through Fairtrade, developing sustainability in our supply chain, and ethical investment.

Our ambition is to:

We’ve made solid progress so far:

  • Key contracts such as our caterers BaxterStorey, specify sustainability requirements. Learn more about our sustainable catering standards here
  • As members of the Southern Universities Purchasing Consortium we have supported the adoption of higher standards such as affiliation to Electronics Watch to address slavery in IT supply chains.
  • Investment & PurchasingWe’ve held Fairtrade status since 2006 – all clothing sold by the Students Unions is Fairtrade, and our caterers, BaxterStorey, continue to increase their Fairtrade offer. See our current Fairtrade status certificate here.
  • We reduce travel impacts through a subsidized Stagecoach bus service.
  • We’ve joined the Gloucestershire Anti-Slavery Partnership and approved its statement in relation to the Modern Slavery Act.
  • We’re reduced costs and impacts by switching to AAA rated printer-copier-scanners.
  • We were an observer in the DFID funded “Promoting poverty aware procurement on campus” project, facilitated by the EAUC.

We’ve achieved this by:

  • Conducting an institution-wide risk and impact assessment in 2016 across our entire purchasing operation, to guide our improvement priorities, using four criteria for environmental, social, financial and reputational considerations.
  • Intervening on key contracts to improve decision-making so that we spend in ways that benefit sustainability as well as achieving value for money and are gathering case studies of improvements made and cost savings realised as a result
  • Operating an in-house equipment swap scheme called SHARE where our teams can exchange items and avoid making new purchases
  • Developing guidance and training for our lead buyers and tender managers in sustainable procurement practice
  • Working with local partners – Our Product Design team runs the local monthly repair café in Cheltenham in partnership with the council and Vision 21 charity. They also offer pop-up re-use and repair sessions on campus.

‘Power of the Purse’ – Staff Development and Engagement

In 2016-17 we started our new staff development and training initiative with NetSustain, to drive sustainability improvements and embed circular economy principles into our policy and practice. Two workshops were held, with 100% participation from our team of buyers across departments who have the most influence on our top priority contracts. These staff advised on the development of clear, simple decision-making advice and step-by-step guidance on how to apply responsible procurement principles in areas such as computing, publications and clothing.

See workshop programme/slides

See staff guidance

This work continues through summer 2016 and into 2017-18 with roll-out of ‘top tips’ to the entire University community so that we influence all levels of purchasing power, engaging students and staff in rethinking their buying habits not just in University life but as consumers outside the University, and to inform them to maximize the positive impacts they can have, through business travel, hospitality, field trips and equipment purchases.

Investment & Purchasing

Ethical Investment

We take our fund management seriously and are committed to regular monitoring and updating of our ethical investment activities, in line with our institutional values and ethos.

Ethical Investment Policy (Last updated March 2018 following annual report to FGPC)

  • Restrictions apply to the full scope of institutional investments
  • Policy is signed off by Finance and General Purposes Committee (FGPC)
  • Specifies annual review, evaluation and monitoring process and responsibilities
  • Annual report to University Executive Committee (UEC) to guide recommendations to FGPC

An annual report from the investment fund manager is made to FGPC. The FGPC also receives an annual report on the treasury policy which includes ethical investment.

Continuous improvements made to our ethical investment policy resulting from our annual monitoring:

  • 2008 – we specified no investments in companies associated with tobacco, armaments manufacture and trading, abuses of human rights, mining or oil.
  • 2016 – we specified no investments in thermal coal, oil shale and tar sands; widened restrictions on armaments strategic components and services; and linked to the EIRIS standard to cover international law on human rights and labour standards as well as oil and mining standards.
  • 2018 – The University took the decision to fully divest from fossil fuel extraction companies with immediate effect.

Students are able to inform policy development through:

  • Regular reports to Sustainability Committee (SC) which has student members
  • Reports on issues arising to Ethics and Integrity Committee (EIC) raising agenda items at EIC
  • Invitations to inform UEC on specific matters (e.g. fossil fuel debate 2016)

Staff and other stakeholders can also raise issues or compliance breeches through the SC or EIC and by directly contacting the Head of Finance.

Help us achieve even more:

  • Learn about ‘Eco-labels’ to inform your buying – how to understand badges to avoid being green-washed.
    See our in-house guidance to work out which ones mean the most
  • Swap items using our SHARE scheme – think about your office or study equipment and re-using or swapping where you can
  • Ask about opportunities in your area to invest or spend more responsibly, whether this is through your Students’ Union or university departments
  • How to purchase responsibly to support Sustainability – Top tips

Find out more: