Grants / Projects we are funding

Students organising for sustainability UK – students supporting universities to deliver public good through their endowments

Grant details

Amount:£145,300

Awarded on:01/03/2020

Duration:23 months

Status:Live

Area of interest

Investment engagement

Themes covered

Investment management

Universities have been slowly responding to the challenge of divesting from fossil fuels, but what have they done with their money now? Are they using it to further their aims to create a better future for the young people they serve?

What is the issue?

A half of all UK universities have committed to divest their endowments from fossil fuels, but of those that have moved their money, most have just reinvested them into similar off-the-shelf investment products of little social value. Nearly all UK universities are lay investors, not instructing their fund manager to use their influence or shareholder votes. Despite the fact that many of our universities are asset rich and employ many of the leading climate scientists, they are not deploying their money to fight the climate emergency.

What will the project try to achieve?

It will encourage universities to make better use of their £3bn cash endowments so that they work in the long-term interests of students, not against them. The project will work with a small number of UK universities to help them become the first in the country to redeploy their endowments into new renewable assets through direct investments and impact investment funds, a total of £200k by the end of 2021. Alongside this, it will support students across the UK to call for new responsible investment endowment policies that cover minimum standards for asset manager selection, require forceful stewardship and shareholder engagement, and disclose of performance to students. By the end of 2024, the majority of UK universities will have policies with these commitments, and universities will routinely be levering influence on transnational companies through their endowment investments.

Who might be interested in this project?

Student representatives, students, alumni, academics, university administrators, fund managers, policy makers, residents of university cities.