The University of Southampton has come 94th in a league table measuring the sustainability of 154 UK universities. People and Planet, who claim to be the largest UK student campaigning network, release annual figures each Spring which compile data on sustainable practices within the UK higher education sector.
The table, in which the University of Gloucestershire came first, gathers data from publicly available information on university websites and from information published within the Higher Education Statistics Agency and Estates Management Record, both independent data verification agencies.
The methodology focuses on thirteen major areas of a university’s sustainability programme, including staff in which scores are awarded ‘with recognition that institutions vary in their size, financial resource and approach to human resource management‘, and sustainable food, including the ‘carbon intensity of [universities’] food supply chains‘.
In the Environmental Auditing & Management Systems area of focus, which awards universities for a transparent attitude towards external scrutiny thus allowing an institution to ‘set targets, assess priorities and monitor trends, performance improvements or gaps‘. Southampton received top marks for its accreditation to ‘an externally verified environmental management system‘.
However, for Ethical Investment and Banking, the University of Southampton received no marks at all, partly due to the absence of publicly available ethical investment policy and failure to invest in low-carbon or renewable energy.
The league table, which grades universities in the same format as degrees, gave Southampton a lower 2:2, news which comes in the same week that a protester took to the roof of a prominent university building on the main Highfield Campus during a university open day. The protester, who the Daily Echo name as Willy, claimed to be a former university student and Extinction Rebellion spokesman, arguing against the university’s ties to companies ExxonMobil, Shell, and BAE.