Our programmes and campaigns

Ethical Supply Chains

Welcome to an overview of NUS Services work across responsible sourcing and enhancing the ethical offering available to NUS purchasing consortium members.
Responsible sourcing
NUS is committed to sourcing goods responsibly and we ensure the business practices of our suppliers align with our values. With increasing access to information that calls out the social and environmental challenges in supply chains, there is ever increasing demand from consumers and governments for increased transparency, stewardship and accountability. This is a challenge that NUS takes to heart, not least because consistently NUS research on student expectations of business highlights high student expectations around this area e.g. shown in the results of the Student Survey on Business here.


The principles laid out in our Supplier Ethical Code of Conduct set the expectations for our contracted suppliers. This is updated yearly to reflect any new policies developed or new risk factors uncovered during the course of the year. 

NUS suppliers are vetted through our Ethical and Environmental Verification process. This verification process covers human rights, animal welfare, environmental impact both within supplier operations and their supply chains. This process sets a number of key mandatory requirements for our suppliers; this includes confirming compliance or willingness to work towards our Supplier Ethical Code of Conduct which is a contractual requirement.

We request that suppliers highlight any challenges in their organisation meet these standards. It is the supplier’s responsibility to enforce these standards within their own supplier chain. Suppliers are required to complete this verification process at least once every two years, and this is used to monitor supplier progress and performance. Supplier performance in this area is a key factor in NUS’ contracting decision. The process is tailored to include a category specific questionnaire which addresses key risk areas for food, clothing, stationary, soft drinks and alcohol. 

NUS will audit suppliers as deemed necessary. As an organisation servicing a wide range of product categories with numerous suppliers, we prioritise audits based on category risks, potential impact and on the suppliers' Ethical and Environmental Verification performance. 

Where it is identified that an existing supplier’s actions may be outside of our required standards we will undertake constructive engagement to address these issues.

To support our efforts in responsible sourcing and wider sustainability efforts, NUS maintains close links with its new educational charity SOS-UK, which was set up in October 2019 to move further and faster on the climate and ecological crisis. NUS is also a member of HEPA’s Responsible Procurement Group.


Driving progress 
Each year we define areas to focus on in order to drive progress and engage suppliers based on student demand and high risk. This year our areas of focus have been on labour conditions in clothing, food sourcing and reducing waste, including from plastics.

Please contact the NUS Ethical Supply Chain Coordinator at aqeel.kapasi@sos-uk.org if you have any queries or opportunities for collaboration.