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Reforming university investments with Invest for Change

Mel Kee
This week, we launch our Invest for Change campaign: calling for universities to invest in the interests of students, not against them.

 

The movement to divest UK universities from the fossil fuel industry has successfully shifted the status quo on university investments. Last week, The University of Cambridge announced a commitment to divest their endowment � the largest of any higher education institution in Europe � from all direct and indirect investments in fossil fuels by 2030.

They join over 50% of UK universities who have, more than 5 years since NUS launched their divestment work with People and Planet, committed to excluding fossil fuel activity from their investment portfolio.

But...

UK universities still have over �15 billion* that is frequently invested against the interests of students and the world they will graduate into. These investment decisions are often left to externally appointed investment managers with little engagement from the university itself.

It�s time to change this.

Invest for Change is calling on universities to:

  • INVEST in environmental and social justice solutions that have measurable, real-world impact.
  • ENGAGE with investments to influence wider corporate behaviour change.
  • TRANSFORM governance to adopt responsible investment policies that support a sustainable future.

How will we do this?

We�ll support students across the UK, from students� union leaders to student groups, to develop and run successful campus campaigns, tailored to their university�s context. We will build on the successful tactics of the divestment campaign, encouraging students to engage with university leaders and mobilise support on campus amongst students and staff. We will connect students across the UK to build a network of campaigners, sharing experiences and celebrating success.

 

Local campaigns will develop relevant asks. Students might call on their university - with large shares in corporate companies, or assets managed by prominent firms - to implement robust and time-bound engagement strategies, along with public statements and regular reporting on activity. Students might challenge their university - with a strong civic role in their local community - to identify and invest in opportunities with measurable, real-world impact and social return. Or they might ask their university - where sustainability is embedded into institutional strategy - to adopt a sector-leading responsible investment policy that presents ambitious decarbonisation plans and commits to transparent measuring and reporting of progress.

If you are a student or students� union officer and would like to find out more about starting a campaign on your campus, get in touch!

We�ll also work directly with any universities that are committed to responsible investment, to support the development of investment practices to centre environmental and social justice solutions. We hope to bring leading universities together on this, creating bespoke opportunities for collaboratively investing to maximise impact.

If you work on responsible investment at universities, get in touch to find out more.

 

Check out our resources

We�ve created resources to support both students and universities to get started on this. Go check out our resource bank for more detail on setting up (and winning!) campaigns, explore actions universities can take to improve investment practices and support for developing good practice responsible investment policies.

Visit our resource bank.

Launch webinar

Watch our recored launch event tomorrow to find out more about the campaign. We explored why we need to reform the way in which universities invest their money and how students can bring campaigns to their campuses, with four great speakers from across both the university and investment sector.

We were joined by:

  • Larissa Kennedy, National President of NUS
  • Divest-Invest campaigners at Platform London
  • Lily Tomson, Head of Networks at ShareAction
  • Colin Baines, Investment Engagement Manager at Friends Provident Foundation.

Watch the webinar.

 

Find out more

Visit our website and follow us on twitter!

Check out the campaign featuring in the Financial Times over the weekend.

Invest for Change is funded by Friends Provident Foundation.

 

*The �15 billion figure is taken from a conservative estimate of current UK university endowment funds (figures from 2018/19 official audited financial statements) and based on the general assumption that majority of universities invest using their endowment funds.

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