People & Planet’s University League is a comprehensive and independent league table of UK universities ranked by environmental and ethical performance. It is compiled annually by the UK’s largest student campaigning network, People & Planet.
The University of Kent moved up 12 places and maintained its 2:1 class in the 2022 People and Planet University League published in the Guardian (6th December 2022) achieving 29th place overall out of 153. This is up from 41st in 2021.
Despite the significant challenges faced over the last few years both from the covid-19 pandemic and from economic pressures and resulting changes within the University we have seen some significant score increases in many areas of the league this year which reflect our institutional commitment to sustainability.
Areas where we have improved the most are our Carbon Management Plans, Sustainable Food and Staff & Student Engagement. We scored 100% for both the Environmental Policy and Environmental Auditing & Management sections which recognises the university's ongoing demonstration of its commitments through the operation of an externally certified Environmental Management System.
The University placed 13th in the UK for its carbon management plans reflecting the hard work of the Estates department and sustainability team during the last few years in setting ambitious targets and developing the plans to achieve them. While we fell slightly short of achieving the sector wide target of a 43% reduction by 2020 we did achieve our own internal tartes in this area. Our new Net Zero carbon target and plans in place to deliver this will see us catching up with the sector and achieving a 50% reduction by 2030.
Unfortunately, many of the scoring gains described were offset by our operational performance which scored relatively poorly compared to the sector. This was partly due to the nature of our campus. As we are a campus university with a large proportion of students living in our on-campus accommodation our per capita energy and waste is often higher than other campuses.
Opportunities for Improvement
There are some areas of the league where the University has not scored as highly or has failed to make sufficient progress against the criteria set by People and Planet.
Ethical Careers and Recruitment
This is a new section added in 2022 which is based on a campaign to call university careers services to end promotion or information related to careers in the oil, gas and mining industries. As this is a new category we are currently still in the process of working to better understand what meeting the criteria would mean at Kent. The Head of careers and employability at Kent is a member of the University's Sustainability Steering Group and will give regular updates to the group on any actions identified in this area.
Although we have significantly increased our score in this year compared to last year there are still actions to be taken to improve in this area. We are currently exploring becoming a living wage employer and we regularly review our processes to ensure parity or pay, terms and conditions for all employees.
Find out more
If you have any questions about our performance in this league then please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
You can find the full league table and details of the scoring methodology here
The University of Kent has a publicly available Sustainability Policy which is signed by the Vice-Chancellor, and the Chair of Council.
This Policy is reviewed annually as part of the Management Review of our ISO 14001:2015 Environmental Management System (EMS). Policy review usually takes place in September and the most recent Policy was signed off in October 2021.
Our EMS sets out time-bound targets for our significant environmental aspects. The Sustainability Policy outlines our commitments to the areas specified. Most areas have their own strategy documents that highlight the targets and timescales. The targets are reported and reviewed through the EMS Team, and reported upwards through the Sustainability Steering Group to council.
As a university, we have an externally verified Environmental Management System (EMS), which covers the whole University estate. We have maintained the ISO14001 standard since 2012 and recently successfully recertified to ISO 14001:2015 in December 2021.
Sustainability is included within the portfolio of a member of the University's Executive Group; Professor Richard Reece, Deputy Vice Chancellor for Education and Student Experience.
The Sustainability Team, Dr Catherine Morris, Sustainability Manager, and Emily Mason, Sustainability Coordinator are supported by colleagues across the University with specific responsibilities in supporting this work.
See the Who's Who of Sustainability at Kent
All staff are encouraged to get involved with supporting sustainability. Our staff engagement programme FutureProof empowers staff to take action and is supported by our network of sustainability champions.
The University includes its Ethical Investment commitments within the Investment Policy. The current Policy was signed and published in June 2019.
We have also published a list of our investment holdings which details how our investments held with Cazenove Capital are in their Responsible Multi-Asset fund, this is a highly ethically sound investment fund designed to also monitor the carbon footprint of investments.
We are committed to not investing either directly, or in pooled investment funds a major part of whose business is pornography, gambling, tobacco, fossil fuels or armaments.
Our aim is to publish information about the University's investment practices and procedures in such a way that facilitates greater transparency and access to information for students, staff and the general public. All of the information above can be found on our Investment Policy webpages
The University includes sustainability and ethical standards, particularly with regards to high risk sectors such as fossil fuel, arms, mining and tobacco, in its vacancy handling policy which is updated annually.
Information about the careers service structure and staff can be found on the careers and employability webpages
The University of Kent Careers and Employability Service is not part of any combined Careers Service but uses the resources and support provided by a number of third parties as set out in our Code of Practice
The University is commitment to improving the terms and conditions for its own workers as well as for those involved within the University's supply chains.
We are a member of the Southern Universities Purchasing Consortium (SUPC) which is affiliated to Electronics Watch on behalf of its members.
The University has also signed up to the Can't Buy My Silence universities pledge
We have a Sustainability Engagement Strategy which outlines our approach and targets for engaging staff, students and other interested parties.
We have a range of support options for staff, student and community groups undertaking sustainability on campus such as through training, event support and funding for projects.
We host regular events published on our events calendar and hold an annual Climate Action Week to learn, share ideas and take action on the climate and ecological emergency.
All staff at the University are required to undertake the mandatory Sustainability Awareness module.
Students are represented across the University's strategic decision making processes including:
Council - the supreme governing body of the University
Finance & Resources Committee - decisions related to financial expenditure and the development of our Estate
Senate - responsible for the academic governance of the University.
Kent Union are also working towards their own Environmental Strategy 2020-25
The University approved the vision and context for embedding (ESD) across Kent in October 2020. Our framework for ESD consists of 3 phases; Research, Capacity building and Curriculum reform.
An ESD working group drives this activity which is reported to the SSG
We are working with Students Organising for Sustainability (SOS) to map our curriculum against the SDGs. Mapping will be conducted by student auditors over the summer with the results available in September 2022.
The Sustainability Team supports ESD through training for academic staff, designing projects for students and facilitating living-lab projects. We are also currently producing an online toolkit to provide more resources and guidance.
The University is working towards becoming a University of Sanctuary providing a safe and welcoming place for refugees, asylum seekers and migrants.
We offer multiple scholarships to enable students to access HE such as the Article 26 Award
We have a publicly available Carbon Management Plan statement which sets out our short, medium and long-term targets to achieve net zero by 2040. This document can be accessed directly below or through our climate action webpages
CarbonManagementPlanStatement2022-23.pdf (PDF 224.75 KB)
We have also now published our baseline data and interim targets for Scope 3 emissions in line with our target to achieve net zero scope 3 by 2050.
As well as the data, the published statement sets out the responsibilities, governance and financing of our carbon reduction work.
We have a publicly available Sustainable Food Action Plan which is reviewed annually by the Sustainable Food Steering Group and reported to the EMS Team and SSG.
The Sustainable Food Steering Group includes representatives from Commercial Services, Procurement and Sustainability as well as student and staff representatives.
Staff, students and the local community are provided with the opportunity to be part of the Kent Community Oasis Garden (COG), a sustainability hub centred around growing food. This year, food grown at Kent COG will be purchased by our catering outlets to produce food served on site.