Published on February 6, 2014 | by Jessica Murray


Students do their part for a sustainable future

Girl uses recycling bin

There are many different projects for students to get involved in [Andy Fyles]

Students want to get more actively involved in working towards a sustainable future, according to a new survey conducted by the National Union of Students (NUS).

According to their vice president Dom Anderson: “95 per cent of climate change is our fault,” so students need to get actively involved to work towards a more sustainable future.

Former ecology student at the University of East Anglia and NUS’s Ethical and Environmental Manager, Jamie Agombar, told Arts London News: “60 per cent of students want to learn about sustainability whether their course is linked to it or not. 85 per cent of students want their university to be more actively involved in educating and promoting students about a sustainable future.”

He added: “We already have many different projects for students to get involved in. They aren’t just about learning, but they’re something fun to enjoy with friends as well.”

These projects include the Student Switch Off, which is a non-profit campaign that encourages students to take action by doing small, simple things to prevent climate change.

It involves energy saving competitions that are run at one third of all halls of residence across the UK; students compete against each other, with prizes awarded for the biggest energy savers.


The main aim of these student energy saving campaigns is to educate people by showing that small simple things, such as switching lights off and not over-filling a kettle, can make a big difference.

In a speech to the Higher Education Funding Council For England (HEFCE) sustainable development meeting recently UAL’s Vice Chancellor, Nigel Carrington, explained that “our staff and students aim to contribute to a better world through sustainability, but recognition and support encourage and multiply new initiatives.”

According to Carrington, the majority of UAL campuses have actively reduced their carbon emissions from electricity consumption since December 2012, with CSM decreasing theirs by 13.3 per cent.

“I think it is definitely a good thing as people are more aware of their own/their university’s carbon emissions. Anything that works towards preserving what we have and making sure that this doesn’t get any worse than it already is is very relevant and important to our future” said Greg Elder, an education and social science student at St Mary’s University.


Agombar has been shortlisted for the Inspiring Leader award at The Guardian’s University Awards 2014, for his work towards a greener environment with universities.

close up of someone turning off a light switch

UAL campuses have actively reduced their electricity consumption. [Andy Fyles]

He is also involved in Student Eats, a project that encourages students to grow their own fruit and vegetables at student-led growing sites; funded by the National Lottery, Student Eats is a fun way for students to get involved with creating low-carbon produce.

For Agombar, “the diversity of people in London gives us a great opportunity to get different viewpoints on new ways to save the planet.”

For more information, the results of the NUS survey on sustainability and students can be found here.


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