Dr Laura Rhodes, Sustainability Engineer and Helen Rutherford, Head of Sustainable Campus Operations
Approved by University Executive Board 6 June 2023 and by the University’s Sustainability and Resources Committee 13 June 2023
11. Sustainable Cities and Communities
The policy provides an overview to illustrate how the University will meet its aim to actively manage student and staff related travel associated with the University.
It highlights the need for increased awareness of the impact of business travel and commuting to the University and our carbon reduction commitments.
This policy is to clarify the variety of different aspects and impacts of student and staff travel within the university, how these are both managed and minimised where possible and to reflect the commitments set out in the University's Environmental Sustainability Policy and the University’s Strategic Plan.
Staffordshire University is a multi-campus and multi-site University, our Stoke on Trent campus is within the 2 miles of the larger towns within the Stoke area and is exposed to significant road traffic, which can impact on the efficiency of car and bus travel in the area. The campus is located less than half a mile of the railway station, but with limited local services, a number of students and staff are not able to utilise this service, limited bus services within the Stoke area, also reduce the ability of students to use public transport to commute to the University.
The policy aims to encourage more active and environmentally friendly decisions when making transport choices. It also seeks to assist the surrounding communities, local authorities and the global impact by reducing traffic congestion and the associated harmful effects on the environment from single car usage and higher carbon emitting modes of travel.
Sustainability within the University
It is widely understood that whilst travel and transport can have a negative impact on the environment, through carbon emissions and reducing air quality in the local area, we need to enable students and staff to travel to our campus for teaching.
By providing adequate information on alternative travel options to encourage behaviour change we can reduce these environmental impacts, without compromising the student experience on campus.
Measuring and monitoring the carbon emissions associated with travel will enable the University to report on carbon emissions and demonstrate reductions in carbon emissions through changes in travel behaviour.
Travel and UN Sustainable Development Goals
While developed countries such as the UK have relatively advanced alternative travel and transport options at a national level, locally this remains a challenge, due a wide range of personal requirements in relation to travel. As a university, we must remain aware of the level of resource consumption and ensure that is managed is a sustainable way, within the scope of our responsibility. This will assist with the delivery of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The University has made a commitment to reduce the impact of our operational travel, and in 2023 created an electrified fleet for maintenance and estates vehicles. This is aligned to the creation of an electric vehicle charging infrastructure on both our Stoke-on-Trent and Stafford campus.
Estates and Commercial Services will move from the use of diesel to petrol vehicles, in preparation for the government legislation of ceasing the production of combustion engine vehicles from 2030.
Accurate and robust reporting of carbon emissions from across the University in relation to business mileage will be created, using data from a variety of sources, including:
- Mileage claims
- Fuel car usage
- Use of external travel booking systems
By effectively managing offsite business travel, encouraging multi-occupancy vehicles and utilising shared vehicles, we can reduce the impacts of these critical business trips.
We will review the operational effectiveness of using hire vehicles for business rated trips and journeys, to reduce environmental impacts and reduce the reliance on a potentially aging grey fleet of vehicles.
Low carbon travel options when booking travel will be encouraged and this will move to a mandatory requirement.
Staff Travel – Commuting
Encouraging the use of alternative commuting methods, reducing single occupancy cars and continuing to allow a flexible hybrid working pattern, carbon associated with staff commuting can be reduced.
Staff can use the electric vehicle charging infrastructure whilst on campus, at a competitive rate, to encourage the use of electric vehicles.
The University offers and publicises discounted public transport options, which will continue.
We will continue to use annual staff surveys to record commuting behaviours and carbon associated within these journeys.
Our parking provision and the approval of parking permits will remain limited to staff located more than two miles from our campuses, to encourage the use of alternative transport methods and encourage more active travel options.
Student Travel – Commuting
Encouraging the use of alternative commuting methods and reducing single occupancy cars for student commuting aims to reduce carbon emissions, however the University is aware of the other demands placed on students who are reliant on their cars and would not look to detriment any student through the restriction of car use.
Students can use the electric vehicle charging infrastructure whilst on campus, at a competitive rate, to encourage the use of electric vehicles.
The University offers and publicises discounted public transport tickets, including local buses and national rail services which will continue.
The University provides free inter-site travel for students between transport hubs and our campus, to reduce the requirement for students and staff to bring cars on to campus, not only reducing the environmental impacts, but the financial burden placed on students in relation to travel.
Our parking provision and the approval of parking permits will remain limited to students located more than two miles from our campuses, to encourage the use of alternative transport methods and encourage more active travel options.
In line with the University’s International Policy, carbon associated with international travel, the University will continue to recruit a certain proportion of international students to our taught and research programmes as we believe that they bring diversity to the life and work of our University, to the local communities in which our campuses are located and to the regions to which we contribute. We will encourage international students to minimise the number of flights they take during the course of their studies.
We will continue to develop international collaborative academic partnerships in key regions, including the possibility of exchange of students for periods of study between the University and the partner (in both directions). We will minimise the amount of incidental travel associated with management of these relationships and will use digital means of communication where possible. We do recognise that, to maintain good relationships with partners, a certain amount of travel will be needed.
We will support our students in their aspirations to live, study and work abroad, and will encourage them to minimise the number of flights taken and to prioritise rail travel over air travel within Europe.
We will develop a hybrid approach to the delivery of some of our programmes, including digital and on-line learning, which will allow us to expand our international education offering in a less carbon intensive manner.
We will support our research academics to pursue collaborative research projects with overseas partners and will encourage them to minimise the number of flights taken and to prioritise rail travel over air travel within Europe. We will work within potential carbon budgets for travel which may be imposed by funders.
In the event of the University being subject to external carbon emission ‘budgets restrictions’, we will analyse the cost/benefit of international academic activities when deciding how much carbon to allocate to these activities.
By effectively managing and reporting on the environment impacts of business-related travel, we will aim to reduce the financial impacts on the university through these essential journeys.
We will review and interrogate the journeys which are taken, and the travel mode chosen, to encourage the use of public transport and discourage single occupancy journeys. A cost versus carbon analysis of journeys will be undertaken, to demonstrate the comparable savings which can be made through alternative travel options.
Staffordshire University is committed to:
- making sustainable travel the norm for our students and staff, by improving connections whilst travelling within our campus and to and from our campuses.
- Monitoring carbon emission related to university travel and reducing carbon emissions.
- minimise parking demands through the delivery of alternative sustainable travel and transport options.
- reducing the need to travel for university related activities.
- monitoring and reporting on student and staff commuting and travel behaviour.
- identifying areas of improvement and aspects of behaviour change
- challenging travel options and optimising the procurement of low carbon travel options.
- providing appropriate facilities and information to increase the use of low carbon travel options to students, staff, and visitors.