Sustainability Matters 2023

Our June 2023 sustainability update from Executive Lead for Sustainability, Sally McGill.

All over the University, people are thinking about environmental sustainability and changing how they work to create a more sustainable future and to achieve the vision set out in our Environmental Sustainability Strategic Framework.

Visit our new Sustainability web pages to learn about our targets and our progress to date. We have also signed up for the Race to Zero.

Reducing our carbon emissions is important, but there is so much more to what we are doing. In every one of the main areas within the framework, we are measuring our success on an annual basis –link to first annual report. I’d like to look at some of the highlights here and look at how they help to deliver our vision.

Woodlands Forest School and improving biodiversity

During the last few years, at the Stoke-on-Trent Leek Road campus, we have improved the biodiversity of our environment by rewilding the river, planting trees, and creating areas of ‘no-mow’ wildflowers and grasses. We also created Wild Staffs – a staff and student group who have undertaken projects on campus.

In 2022, we opened the Woodlands Nursery and Forest School – our first carbon neutral building on site. The building has since won two construction awards for its innovative design and low carbon engineering. 

Through the Woodlands Forest School, we are developing programmes to give local school children the opportunity to engage with the natural world through a purpose built teaching and learning space and within our on-campus nature reserve.

We are also helping local primary and secondary schools, further education institutions and community groups to bring opportunities to teach about biodiversity into their own environments. Our education specialists are also developing a new course for student teachers called ‘Outdoor learning for a sustainable world’.

Carbon Literacy

Colleagues within the University have developed an in-house training carbon literacy programme which has been delivered to staff and students, as well as participants from external organisations. The carbon literacy team are currently working with academics to embed carbon literacy training in degree programmes. As a result of all of this work, the University has been awarded Bronze status as a Carbon Literate Organisation (CLO).

Sustainable campus

We have made lots of small improvements across our campuses which add up to some significant changes. We are working towards achieving FairTrade status in all of our catering outlets and are sourcing food locally and through accredited schemes, wherever possible. We always ensure that there are no-meat alternatives on the menu and we use more sustainable food packaging. We have removed single use plastic bottled water from sale and installed water fountains in convenient locations. We have improved our waste and recycling arrangements and have set up a scheme which means that leftover food doesn’t go to waste at the end of the day.

We have started providing electric vehicle charging points in our car parks – with more to come as demand grows – and we have replaced the majority of our on-campus service vehicles with electric-powered models.

in the UK for Quality Education

Sustainable Development Goal 4, Times Higher Education Impact Rankings 2024

for Career Prospects

Whatuni Student Choice Awards 2023

for Facilities

Whatuni Student Choice Awards 2023

for Social Inclusion

The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2023

of Research Impact is ‘Outstanding’ or ‘Very Considerable’

Research Excellence Framework 2021

of Research is “Internationally Excellent” or “World Leading”

Research Excellence Framework 2021

Four Star Rating

QS Star Ratings 2021