Staff and student engagement

UCA Sustainability Survey 2015
All students and staff were invited to take part in The UCA Sustainability Survey in April/May 2015 which sought to understand more about student and staff opinions, behaviours, lifestyle choices and engagement in sustainability at UCA. There were 260 respondents, 62% students and 38% staff, from all four campuses. Results are compared to a GAP survey of UCA sustainability awareness in 2013 and a HEA/NUS national survey of student attitudes to skills for sustainable development in 2014. The findings from the survey are available to all students and staff and are also publicly available. The research is an important resource for UCA and continues to inform the development of communications and engagement related to sustainability. 

  • Most students cited issues related to the so-called ‘throw-away society’/consumerism as being the biggest environmental challenge facing people and planet, while most staff cited climate change as the biggest challenge.
  • Most students believe issues related to social equality are the biggest social challenge, while most staff cited global poverty as the biggest issue.
  • The proportion of the UCA sample with self-declared green lifestyles far exceeded national figures on students (UCA, 80% & UK students 58%). The UCA sample is also more likely to want to do more to help the environment than UK students (UCA 75% & UK students 58%).
  • High proportions of students (43%) and staff (31%) cannot tell if there were any opportunities to contribute to the environmental sustainability of the university.
  • Favourable environmental behaviours (self-declared) of the UCA sample, include very high (90%) claims over correct use of recycling bins, higher proportion of behaviours related to energy conservation compared to 2013, although computer switch-off remains an issue. 40% of students try to incorporate waste materials in their work. 32% take environmental impact into consideration in their design/creative work and 21% claim that environmental protection is always/usually a major theme of their work. Over half of respondents try to encourage others to act more sustainability.
  • Over half of respondents in Learning & Teaching, Marketing, Fine Art, 3D Design, Craft & Design and Architecture are classed as Sustainability Enthusiasts.
  • 72% of UCA respondents want to learn more about sustainability, compared to just 62% of UK students (HEA/NUS).

Engagement of staff and students to improve UCA environmental performance
An internal review in June 2015 of opportunities to improve UCA environmental performance across all campuses, involved interviews and focus groups with students and staff from Facilities, Resources Management, Procurement and Academic staff. Suggestions and observations from staff and student interviews identified new opportunities for annual carbon emissions reductions of 275 tonnes. These opportunities are incorporated into UCA’s third Carbon Management Plan. In addition, suggestions provided on how to improve resources use and reduce waste form an important part of a current UCA project on Waste, Resources and the Circular Economy which will be completed in 2019.

Staff and student engagement summary
In 2015, 57% of students and 69% of staff claimed they were aware of opportunities to contribute to the environmental sustainability of the University. A key engagement goal is to increase levels of awareness of activity and of opportunities to contribute. Surveys in 2018 will assess progress of the awareness and engagement programme using the results from 2015 as a baseline.

The following is a summary of actions undertaken in 2017/18 to raise awareness and engagement.

  • An Environment & Sustainability online open forum continued to operate for staff as a place to post news and questions and share observations and suggestions on sustainability at UCA. All staff can access and post on the forum, which is hosted on UCA Workplace. Around one third (c. 240) of staff actively view environmental sustainability general announcements on UCA Workplace.
  • The progress of the Sustainability programme is communicated to Staff & Student representatives at Campus Operations Group Meetings.
  • The Sustainability Officer has delivered lectures and facilitated discussions with students and staff on the UCA Sustainability programme.
  • In collaboration with UCA Students Union (UCASU), university sustainability activities are communicated via UCASU social media, including the UCASU website, facebook and twitter accounts.
  • Information on recycling at Halls of Residence in Farnham has been clarified and a lecture on materials recycling and circular economy thinking delivered to students in residence during the summer vacation.
  • The Sustainability Officer collaborates with UCASU on the planning and delivery of activities during Green Month. In March 2018 there were over forty events and activities across UCA’s four campuses to engage staff and students in sustainability issues. Events included Meat-free Mondays and vegan options in canteens, Swishing events (clothing exchange), Green Discussion Forums, movie screenings,  talks from local ‘green’ businesses and Non-governmental Organisations, a pop-up Repair Café and a free Bike repair and maintenance session with the Bikestart charity.
  • In September 2018, the Sustainability Officer took part in the Fresher’s Week Fairs, distributing information and meeting with new students.
  • In 2018, 11% of students and over 50% of staff at each campus chose to complete a survey on Sustainable Travel to assist the development of Sustainable Travel Plans. The annual Environment & Energy Report is published on the UCA website in November each year. The report and highlights are communicated internally to both staff and students.

Case Study: Hop and Herb Garden, UCA Canterbury
At UCA Canterbury campus a group of students with funding from UCA and the UCA Students Union have developed a hop and herb garden on campus. The hops have been grown in recognition of Canterbury’s past as a hop growing area and the herbs are free for students to pick and use.

Students' Union
In June 2018, UCA Students' Union (UCASU) took part in the National Union of Students (NUS) Green Impact awards and were presented with a ‘Very Good’ Award in recognition of achievements in sustainability. This award recognises improvements since 2016, when the UCASU received a Bronze award under the previous grading scheme for NUS’s Green Impact Awards.

Farnham Sustainability Fayre 2018
In June 2018, UCA students and staff operated a stand at the Farnham Sustainability Fayre 2018, showcasing student art inspired by nature and constructed from found objects and recycled materials. Over two hundred local Farnham residents visited the stand, which also highlighted key elements of the University Sustainability programme.

Case Study: The Secret Garden, UCA Farnham
UCA and UCA Students Union provided funding to a group of student volunteers to develop ‘The Secret Garden’, a small communal area at Farnham campus, for growing fruit and vegetables for students and also as a source for UCA Catering Services. The garden has delivered a crops of, grapes and strawberries and cabbages, beans other vegetables since 2016. We hope that in future years, some of the crops might be used to produce delicious, ultra-locally sourced food in UCA Farnham’s kitchens. The UCA Farnham Secret Gardeners society has over seventy members and an active Facebook page. 

Useful documents, please click on links below to view and/or download: 

UCA Sustainability Survey