Steering the Students’ Green Fund - an EAUC perspective

14th August 2013

NUS has now announced the 25 students' unions that have been successful in bidding for a portion of £5 million to deliver ambitious ethical and environmental projects. These projects will drive transformative sustainability across their campuses and communities, create world-leading greening credentials across English Higher Education, and help graduates come out of their time in education as part of the solution to our environmental challenges.

Iain Patton, CEO of the EAUC, comments on the NUS Students' Green Fund announcement:

"Given the four key themes of the new fund - student engagement, partnership, impact and legacy - it is obvious why the EAUC encouraged the formation of the fund and now sits on the Fund's Steering Group.

We want this Fund to work. It offers a game-changing chance to excite, empower and mobilise students to start to realise the power which they now have. OK, the Fund may seek ‘to help English students' unions to take leadership and ownership of the sustainability agenda in higher education’ but we in the EAUC know that sustainability is a team game; students cannot do this on their own.

The £5m fund is for student-led sustainability projects, to be run by students’ unions in partnership with their parent institutions, and it’s the word ‘partnership’ which is critical here.  For years EAUC sustainability professionals have been ploughing a difficult and often lonely sustainability furrow. But now the Green Fund dramatically empowers students as an ally, to work together in a powerful partnership to realise previously unimaginable positive change. These are exciting times.

The ideas coming in from the Students' Green Fund applications reflect the creativity and ambition bursting out of this rich alliance. They include all sorts of food and growing projects, social enterprises, supporting local business and a wide array of attempts to set up student unions as green activists. The lack of projects focussing on the curriculum is notable though, as is the dominance of larger unions winning this round of bids. As for Further Education, well...

As a member of the Funds Steering Group, it’s the job of the EAUC to be a sounding board for NUS, to provide a strategic steer on how NUS can successfully manage the Fund and to ratify the Funding Panel decisions. We have done this and congratulate the NUS on managing the deluge of applications.

But next time around, and we certainly encourage HEFCE to ensure there is a next time around, the process needs to be less rushed and to find new ways to give smaller unions and Further Education a better chance. The scale of rejection will have to be managed very carefully, and the EAUC commits to working with the NUS to finding ways to help those who were unsuccessful. We cannot let this put them off. Far from it!

In a new partnership with EAUC Members, the Green Fund has an opportunity to build a radical new partnership with student unions that reaches well beyond the low hanging environmental fruit to transforming the teaching, research and leadership at the heart of our universities and colleges."

To learn more about the NUS Students' Green Fund, and to find out about the 25 successful projects, click here.

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