EAUC Members reflect on the impact of Covid19

8th December 2020

The Covid-19 pandemic caused unprecedented challenges for the entire world and the Further & Higher education sector was not spared the mayhem of disruption.

We at EAUC wanted to better understand how the pandemic impacted the sustainability community and how we can better support members during these difficult times. A sustainable, resilient recovery is possible and the recent Covid-19 Impact Survey aimed at EAUC educational members revealed that in the context of the disruption caused, over 60% of respondents believe that despite the barriers, there are opportunities to advance sustainability within institutions.

One member summed up the finely balanced situation : “Sustainability will continue to be prioritised and resource allocation is unlikely to change; however, anticipated funding will be more difficult to secure and budgets diverted elsewhere”.

With numerous institutions facing financial instability in the immediate future, it was somehow reassuring to see that over 70% of respondents have predicted that the budget available for sustainability for the academic year 2020-21 will either stay the same or increase slightly . In addition to this, it was reiterated that sustainability staff positions have not been reduced as an effect of the pandemic*, but threats are unavoidable to long-term planning.

The survey results offer cautiously positive outcomes for the future with approx. 65% of respondents being either confident or very confident in their ability to lead on their institution’s sustainability agenda. In light of this, we want to ensure that our members receive the appropriate support to reach their key sustainability targets and following the responses received, it was clear that the focus should be on embedding sustainability practices throughout the institution to find solutions to the climate crisis.

Hearing our members’ voices is crucial and after careful considerations of the suggestions outlined by members in this survey on how to build back better, but also based on our commitment to continue to provide our members with relevant support, we have created a list of actions that we will be looking at implementing in the future. These are to:
  • Offer tailored guidance on how to meet net zero-guidance by providing the sector with a thorough the FE Climate Action Roadmap, an upcoming HE Climate Toolkit, Carbon Literacy Training and further support
  • Give assistance with using the Sustainability Leadership Scorecard to better show institutional progress
  • Provide support materials (guides, events, webinars, etc.) on how to implement sustainability-related projects within own institutions in the context of disruption and other pressing agendas
  • Investment in your and your team’s leadership skills through a refreshed leadership training offering we will be updating members on early 2021.
Thank you to all members who took the time to complete the Covid-19 Impact Survey and please continue to share your thoughts with us at info@eauc.org.uk.

*to date – Survey conducted in November 2020.

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