NUS Launches Divest-Invest Campaign

19th January 2016

On the subject of the Divest-Invest campaign, Iain Patton, Chief Executive of the EAUC, said; “To quote Joy Carter, Vice-chancellor of the University of Winchester in Times Higher Education after the historic UN Paris Climate Change Agreement, ‘Deciding as a sector to help all our students to confront climate change is a strong expression not only of our autonomy but also of our scholarly and ethical values and our noble purpose’. Part of this requires us to take a look at the sources of our institutional funding and investments and to recognise that by doing this, we have the chance to maximise on ethical funding opportunities, take the lead on investment in renewables and to play our part in achieving Global Goal No.13 to combat climate change.

“The NUS data suggests that respondents considered areas such as Human Rights, arms, and animal testing to be high priorities for divestment, demonstrating that the issue on ethical investment reaches further than fossil fuels. The EAUC encourages its Members to see this as an opportunity to adopt a wider ethical approach to their investments, rather than focusing solely on  single issue. Taking a broader view of sustainability will enable institutions to balance environmental, social and ethical accountability with their funding needs, providing invaluable learning opportunities and much needed stability and resilience for the future.

“The EAUC supports Members by providing a fast expanding rage of resources in this area and you can view these here

“We would like to hear from Members on what resources and support you and your institution’s investment and endowment managers require to help you on your ethical investment journey. Please respond on the Members Network or contact us direct at”

NUS Press Release:

The National Union of Students (NUS) is calling for universities and colleges to pull £100 million out of fossil fuels and put it into renewables, as new research reveals the extent of institutions’ investment in fossil fuel companies.

NUS launched the Divest-Invest campaign on Monday 18th January at SOAS, the first institution in London to divest. The membership organisation planted 100 paper wind turbines to represent the £100 million they plan to shift out of fossil fuels and into renewables.

NUS issued freedom of information requests to all higher and further education institutions in the UK to find out how their money is invested. The results showed £180 million is invested in fossil fuels, but they believe this is the tip of the iceberg and the actual figure is closer to £600 million.

NUS also conducted a survey which revealed both students and staff strongly support divestment. The research found 85 per cent of staff, students and students’ union officers think their university should invest in renewables and 75 per cent want the opportunity to invest locally.

Over the next 18 months NUS will support students’ unions as they push their institutions to cut their ties with fossil fuel companies.

In the 2014/2015 academic year nearly £20 million of university research funding was related to fossil fuels and a quarter of universities receive benefits from energy companies like scholarships, gifts and sponsorships.

Other findings include:

•        90 per cent of staff, students and officers are in favour of using renewables to supply heat, electricity and fuel.

•        Three fifths of staff, students and officers don’t know how to raise concerns about their institutions’ investments and two thirds don’t know how to raise concerns about research.

•       14 per cent of universities and five per cent of colleges reported having governors linked to the fossil fuel industry.

The Divest-Invest campaign aims to get institutions to divest £100 million of the money currently in fossil fuels and reinvest it in renewables, never invest in fossil fuel companies and switch to 100 per cent renewable energy.

Piers Telemacque, NUS vice president (society and citizenship), said:

“We looked into the investments of our universities and colleges because students don’t think our education system should be funding climate breakdown.

“We’ve set a target of moving £100 million of fossil fuel money into renewable alternatives. We’ll be working with students’ unions and showing leadership on sustainability where our government is failing.”

Graham Peterson, University and College Union environment co-ordinator, said:

"The United Nations has declared 2016 to be the year of Green Finance. It's therefore very timely that NUS has produced this excellent piece of research.

“The report and the survey highlight both the opportunities and the need to address investment strategy in colleges and universities.

“UCU looks forward to working with the NUS on ethical investment and divestment campaigns at both institutional and national level."

Izzy Annan, SOAS students’ union environment officer and co-president of Solar SOAS, said:

“We're really proud to be the first university to divest from fossil fuels in London, and we’re just as excited to be part of the launch to move that money into renewable alternatives.

“Our own Solar SOAS, a student-led renewable energy co-operative, is exactly the sort of thing universities should be championing now. To move £100 million into clean energy projects like this across the UK will be amazing.”
NUS Launches Divest-Invest Campaign image #1 NUS Launches Divest-Invest Campaign image #2