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Invest for Change wins at Glasgow Caledonian University

November 10, 2023

Following a successful Invest for Change campaign, Glasgow Caledonian University has committed to full divestment from fossil fuel and armament companies. Consistent with Invest for Change’s call for universities to reinvest capital towards positive impact investments, GCU has now moved these investments into Green Deposits, which provide capital to a range of projects, including energy efficiency, renewable energy, green transport, sustainable food, waste management and greenhouse gas emission reduction.

SOS-UK’s Invest for Change campaign worked closely with GCU student Laura Yapp on the campaign. In September 2022, Laura submitted a Freedom of Information (FOI) request to the university to disclose its current investment portfolio. Despite earlier commitments, the response confirmed that GCU’s investments included armament and fossil fuel companies BP and Shell. SOS-UK supported Laura to launch a public campaign with a strong presence on social media and on the GCU campus. This included eye-catching posters exposing the sum of money invested in armament and fossil fuel companies. In the first 6 hours of the posters being up on campus, the QR code had been scanned over 100 times.

The campaign caught the attention of university management. Supported by Invest for Change, Laura met with the university’s Chief Finance Officer, Paul Queen, to discuss the campaign’s demands. The university was receptive to Laura’s concerns, ultimately agreeing to amend its Treasury and Ethical Investment Policy to include full divestment from arms and fossil fuel companies. This was completed in January 2023 – just months after Laura began her campaign.

Paul Queen said “Glasgow Caledonian University has recently completed a process which has resulted in a complete divestment, both direct and indirect, from fossil fuel or hydrocarbon management entities from its investment portfolio. In addition, the University does not invest in companies in the alcoholic beverages, tobacco, armaments or defence sectors. We worked closely with our students and the Students' Association in reviewing our investment portfolio and their input has been invaluable as we ensured that our investment portfolio and policy align with the values we share.”

Laura Yapp said “I hope that the steps GCU has taken to divest their investment portfolio encourage other universities in Scotland, and across the UK, to do the same."

Laura’s smart, determined campaigning at GCU is a powerful example of truly student-led climate justice advocacy. GCU leadership should also be commended for being so receptive and working in collaboration with their students. SOS-UK are so proud to support students like Laura up and down the country to do this work. We hope her story inspires other students to get involved in our Invest for Change campaign, which supports students to campaign for their universities to invest in line with climate and social justice.

Want to start an Invest for Change campaign on your campus? Visit the Invest for Change website or contact Invest for Change campaign manager Zak Coleman at zak.coleman@sos-uk.org to set up a meeting.