SOS-UK and ShareAction have collated responsible investment policies from UK universities in an accessible library, to support institutions to improve and develop investment practices in line with environmental and social justice values.
The library shows that over half of UK universities have policies in place, and that most of those policies have some kind of commitment to responsible investment (1)(2)(3) with Environment Social Governance (ESG) criteria.
How universities invest their money has been in the spotlight for the last 10 years, following ground-breaking student campaigns challenging their institutions on their investments in the fossil fuel industry. Over 50% of UK universities have now publicly committed to divest from fossil fuels. (4) Just last week, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine became the 85th university in the UK to hold a divestment commitment. (5) This has redirected £15 billion (6) of capital, and students are calling for more robust policies to dictate the way in which this money is invested.
The resource has been designed to support universities to develop or improve upon their investment policy. Such policies ensure responsible investment principles are clearly outlined and subsequently actioned; ultimately aligning investments with university values. In practice this looks like, amongst other things, committing to seeking out investment opportunities that have a real-world, measurable impact, such as renewable energy infrastructure or social housing projects, and mandating investment managers to engage with investments to push for better corporate practice centring environmental and social justice solutions. This was discussed by senior leaders at universities at our recent roundtable.
Professor Joy Carter, Vice Chancellor at the University of Winchester said:
‘This resource is so valuable in supporting institutions to develop their policies. It allows us to learn from our peers and drive forward the important work around responsible investment as a sector.’
Larissa Kennedy, President of the National Union of Students said:
‘Students want to see their universities taking their concerns around environmental and social justice seriously, in their policy and practice. This resource is great, and allows students to quickly look up responsible investment policies and work with their universities to develop and improve these in line with values.’
Want to find out more about our work on Invest for Change?
SOS-UK is a charity set up by students and staff at NUS in 2019 in response to the climate emergency and ecological crisis. This work is part of their Invest for Change campaign, calling for university money to act in the interests of students, not against them.
ShareAction is a non-profit working to build a global investment sector which is responsible for its impacts on people and planet. The organisation mobilise investors, including HEIs via the Responsible Investment Network - Universities, to take action.