University of St Andrews: St Andrews celebrates Fairtrade University status

The University of St Andrews has achieved a Fairtrade University award in recognition of its commitment to ethical and sustainable consumption.

Now in its fifth year, this prestigious award is delivered as a partnership between the Fairtrade Foundation, the National Union of Students, and Students Organising for Sustainability (SOS-UK). The Fairtrade University and College Awardrequires students to engage in partnerships with their institution and students’ union/association to achieve the award.

The award, which gives the University Fairtrade status, recognises a broad range of activities undertaken across the University with the aim of contributing to a more just, equitable and sustainable world for all. This includes working to raise awareness amongst students of the issues of ethical and sustainable consumption and increasing the availability of Fairtrade products in University outlets.

University Sustainability Co-ordinator Hannah Bowey explained: “The award programme encourages partnership between sustainability, catering and academic staff at the University and its Students’ Association and covers a range of activities including procurement practices, awareness-raising and campaigning activities. Working towards the award also provides opportunities to engage through teaching and the flexibility to receive points for trying out new and innovative ways to engage.

“Students were recruited as volunteer auditors and given training, equipping them with transferrable skills and experience in conducting an audit. The University of St Andrews, like other Higher Education institutions, recognises its environmental and social impact on the world and efforts to be more sustainable go well beyond the significant steps it has taken to reduce carbon emissions.”

“There is also awareness across the Fairtrade scheme that thousands of students attending academic institutions like St Andrews today will go on to graduate and become the teachers, scientists and politicians who decide our planet’s future.

“By encouraging students to explore their understanding of the social and environmental impacts of their decisions, and making ethical and sustainable the norm, institutions can have a hugely positive influence on the graduates who will become the next generation of leaders.”

Hannah added that support from the St Andrews Fairtrade Town campaign group was crucial to achieving the award.

She said: “Without the continued support and guidance from this community group the University would not have achieved this award.”

Joanna Milis, Education Campaigns Manager from the Fairtrade Foundation, said: “The last two years have been very challenging for universities as they deal with the disruptions caused by the pandemic. Completing the Fairtrade University and College Award in 2022 has, therefore, been an incredible achievement. We are delighted that the issues of ethical and sustainable consumption remain important to the institutions.”

Joanna added: “At a time that young people are forming their values and shaping their future careers, it is essential that they are presented with a wide range of narratives and opportunities to think differently about the world. We are one global community. Our decisions have far-reaching consequences, and only together can we tackle the biggest challenges facing our planet and its inhabitants. As students prepare to take their places as decision makers of the future, they are the ones that we need to help shape the way we respond to the multiple crises we face.’