Fifty per cent of parents of 16-18 year olds believe that UK universities are equipping the next generation of students with knowledge about climate change, according to new research from Universities UK.
The research also showed that, although the University of Sheffield and other organisations have made efforts to publicise sustainability research, only 51 per cent of parents in Yorkshire and Humberside recognise that universities are researching solutions to climate change.
The findings come as universities across the UK launch #MadeAtUni #ClimateAction – a new campaign that reaffirms commitment to tackling the climate emergency through researching solutions, working with local communities, and equipping students and the public with much-needed climate literacy.
Public looking to universities to equip population with green skills
Despite this apparent lack of awareness, parents see universities as crucial to delivering on the Department for Education’s sustainability strategy – published last week – with 64 per cent believing that going to university would equip their child with skills and knowledge that can help make the world a better place, and 70 per cent thinking a university degree is essential for those contemplating a career in tackling climate change.
Given the opportunity, more than one in three UK adults (37 per cent) would consider higher education as a route to upskilling to realign their career with efforts to combat the climate emergency.
University of Sheffield acknowledged in new campaign
Led by Universities UK, universities throughout the country have joined forces to set the record straight on their commitment to climate action and demonstrate the remarkable breadth of ways that universities are actively tackling the climate emergency through research, business and community interaction, and efforts to equip every graduate with climate literacy, no matter what subject they study.
Included in the campaign is the University of Sheffield’s partnership with ITM Power. ITM Power is building a new green hydrogen gigafactory and national hydrogen training centre at the University’s Innovation Campus in South Yorkshire. The gigafactory, which is expected to be fully operational by the end of 2023, will manufacture electrolysers that split water into molecules of hydrogen and oxygen using renewable power. The resultant zero-carbon green hydrogen can then be used to decarbonise industrial processes, transport and heating, and will play a major role in achieving net zero.
The partnership between ITM Power and the University will include the development of a new National Hydrogen Research, Innovation and Skills Centre, which will lead to the creation of new jobs at all levels of the hydrogen sector as well as training and career development, and the promotion of hydrogen domestically and internationally.
Professor Steve West CBE, President, Universities UK, said: “We need urgent and ambitious climate solutions and must ensure future generations are given the chance to build the careers they need to tackle this emergency head on. Universities are crucial to this. A university education can make all the difference in equipping students with the knowledge and skills to help them to make a positive impact on the planet, whatever path they choose.
“Evidence shows that universities are centre-stage in the UK’s climate action efforts, from researching bold and innovative solutions, to mobilising businesses and local communities in ways that benefit us all. As a sector we can do even more to ensure the public hear this vital message, and that is what this campaign is all about.”
To mark the launch of the #MadeAtUni #ClimateAction campaign, the University has shared a new short film that highlights the different ways the University is addressing the climate crisis and supporting sustainability.