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Looking after tomorrow is one of the biggest challenges the world faces today.

Unsustainable practices are deepening the impact of environmental degradations, extending inequalities in our society and across the globe, as well as limiting quality of life. Rising to the challenge of developing a sustainable future is at the heart of our aspirations.

The long term, institution wide commitment to sustainability at the University of Gloucestershire has led us to be acknowledged as both a pioneer and a sector leader, a position supported by ranking in the top five in the People and Planet Green League consistently since the league began and as a regular winner at the annual Green Gown Awards.

However we are never complacent - we constantly seek to improve our performance and as such sustainability is a key theme recurring throughout our new University Strategic Plan 2012-2017. The extent to which sustainability features at the heart of this new plan demonstrates our commitment to a ‘whole institution’ approach.

Our Vision

We have a long term, institutional commitment to sustainability and work to embed sustainability across our courses, plans and activities. It's not just about challenging unsustainable practice, but about changing ways of thinking and mindsets, creating promising futures for all through education. 

Embracing Sustainability as a Strategic Priority

The sustainability agenda is becoming increasingly relevant to higher education. Universities are now considering the current and future impact of all of their activities. Universities are motivated by the academic challenge, social responsibility and moral concerns as well as by the opportunities sustainability offers for enhancing the student experience, improving student employability and for income generation.

The University of Gloucestershire is not alone in actively pursuing sustainability. Our University is perhaps unique in having committed to this area for over 20 years - having formally been acknowledged as a sector leader since the early 1980s.

As part of this long term, strategic approach the University seeks to align sustainability with the other key agendas of employability, business development and local engagement.

We are striving towards a process of continuous improvement which extends to four key areas of activity - education, research, outreach and operational activities:

  • increase and encourage staff and student engagement activities, maximising opportunities to become involved in hands-on projects. 
  • lead innovative interdisciplinary and socially relevant research on sustainability.
  • work in partnership with a range of organisations, locally, nationally and internationally to foster sustainability activity.
  • practice what we preach by implementing sustainability measures across all campuses, minimising our environmental impact.

Assessing Progress

Our progress in sustainability to 2017 will be assessed across four main themes:


Be a university which continuously improves its sustainability performance and meets its carbon commitments.


Be recognised as a sector leader in sustainability, and be known for our distinctive profile in education for sustainability and its connections with employability.


Be a university which actively engages staff, students and stakeholders in sustainability activities.


Be a university which builds and supports partnerships locally, nationally and internationally in the area of sustainability.




The following academic targets guide our actions:

Sector Leadership: Continue to drive new thinking and lead new initiatives in support of institutional change for sustainability. Catalyse leadership in sustainability across the HE sector level in the UK and internationally.

Curriculum: Embed Education for Sustainability across the curriculum through validation, review and quality enhancement processes. Fund curriculum innovation and professional development via the Learning for Sustainable Futures scheme.

Research Development: Secure funding to support research development and networking opportunities in sustainability, particularly for early career researchers. Continue to host PRISM in support of PhD students.

Student Experience: Develop ‘real world’ work placement and volunteering opportunities for students in sustainability. Support students via the DegreePlus scheme and identify organisational partners through RCE Severn.

Academic Profile: Lead high profile international sustainability projects, Generate authoritative publications and inform academic dialogue in this area. 

The following corporate targets guide our actions:

Strategy: Embed sustainability into strategic decision-making by the leadership of the University.

Carbon Reduction: Reduce our carbon emissions institution-wide to ensure we are on track to meet the 40% reduction goal by 2020 as set out in our Carbon Strategy.

Communications: Consolidate our profile as a sector leader in this area through external events and collaborative initiatives.

Staff and Student Engagement: Extend the range and quality of student and staff engagement opportunities in sustainability. Improve personal and professional contributions to sustainability.

Public Engagement: Broaden opportunities for the University to engage the local and regional community in learning for sustainability through the RCE Severn.

Accountability: Adopt LiFE as a system for tracking the implementation of the University Sustainability Targets. Work with each professional department to develop Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) for sustainability and put monitoring procedures in place.

Reporting: Report publicly on the sustainability performance against the University’s Strategic Plan every two years



Sustainability is a prominent and recurring theme throughout the Strategic Plan 2012-17. Click the button above to download.


Our Carbon Strategy 'Carbon Matters 2010-2020' which sets out our objectives and targets for carbon reduction over the next decade. Click the button above to download.


  • The University was given a First Class Award in the 2015 People and Planet University League

  • Awarded Highly Commended in the Green Gown Awards 2013  both in the Learning and Skills category for the Learning for Sustainable Futures sceme, and also in the Carbon Reduction category

  • Gold Green Impact Award for our Students’ Union in 2011 and 2012, with silver awards in 2009 and 2010.

  • Purchasing renewable electricity since 1993. The University was Ecotricity’s first client and one of the pioneers in ‘green tariff’ procurement.

  • Over 4 times as many staff members are car sharing to get to work in 2012 when compared to 2003 following implementation of the Sustainable Travel Action Plan.

  • Ranked as 1st Class in the 2013 People and Planet Green League – the only university to have consistently ranked in the top 5 since the league began. 

  • Highly Commended in 2012 by the Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust in its category ‘Outstanding Contribution to Nature by a Gloucestershire Business’ for its on-going work to enrich the county’s biodiversity both in and out of the classroom.

  • The University's work in Education for Sustainability (EfS) was recognised through a Green Gown Award in 2010 and a Highly Commended in 2011. 

  • Ranked 1st (91.6% score) in an assessment of sustainability teaching and learning practice in UK universities by the BiTC 'Universities that Count' assessment undertaken in 2010.

  • 25% reduction in carbon emissions since 2005 from on-site use of fuel and electricity through the implementation of actions from our Carbon Strategy and Carbon Management Plan.

  • Leading a Regional Centre of Expertise in sustainability education (RCE Severn) accredited by the United Nations for 5 years.

  • Introduction in 2011 of a Sustainable Food Policy promoting the use of ethically sourced and fair-trade products, increase in the use of organic and local food and diverting of food waste away from landfill. 

  • Sustainability embedded into the formal process of decision making at Council and senior management level. 


University of Gloucestershire, The Park, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, GL50 2RH. Telephone +44 (0)844 8010001.