12 UK universities achieve Fairtrade status in national ‘Fairtrade University and College Award’
Several universities in the UK have received the latest Fairtrade University and College Award, in recognition of their commitment to promoting ethical consumerism and pursuing trade justice for farmers and workers in low-income countries.
The Fairtrade University and College Award requires students to engage significantly in social outreach and to work collaboratively with one another, and with their institution, to achieve the accolade.
This year, 12 universities achieved Fairtrade status: Bangor University; Bath Spa University; University of Bristol; Bucks New University; University of Chichester; City, University of London; Manchester University; Newman University; Queen’s University Belfast; University of Reading; Swansea University; and University of Worcester.
Two additional universities – the University of Dundee and the University of Newcastle – have received a preliminary status of ‘Working Towards a University and College Award’. This recognises their ongoing efforts towards receiving the award in the future.
Fairtrade status is awarded annually to universities and colleges that have successfully demonstrated their support for making trade fair through a wide range of activities. This ranges from consistently stocking Fairtrade products on campus shops to incorporating the history of trade into their curriculums.
Now in its seventh year, the awards scheme is administered by the Fairtrade Foundation, in partnership with Students Organising for Sustainability (SOS-UK). Each individual award is decided following a student-led audit at each institution.
Stefan Donnelly, Senior Campaigns Manager at the Fairtrade Foundation said: ‘We are delighted to see so many universities joining our global Fairtrade movement, this past academic year, to build a future that is fair for all. Thanks to these commitments, thousands of young people, university staff and people in their surrounding communities have the opportunity to act, learn and shop in a way that supports farmers and workers overseas.
‘As a result of the universities’ efforts, farming communities stand a better chance of tackling the worst impacts of the climate crisis and poverty, perpetuated by a deeply unfair global trade system – a legacy of colonialism. Young people and educational leaders are more concerned than ever about these issues, and we expect more universities and colleges to join our Fairtrade movement in the near future.’
Mr Donnelly added: ‘Becoming a Fairtrade University or College is an excellent way of ensuring that students build a thorough understanding of how our choices and actions have significant consequences all around the world, including in those communities we rely on for popular products such as tea, coffee, cocoa and bananas. As we prepare to mark three decades of the Fairtrade Mark in the UK in 2024, we can reflect on how much change is possible in a generation and how much the next generation can achieve.’
Since the relaunch of the Fairtrade Universities and Colleges award in 2017, Fairtrade status has been awarded to 46 universities and colleges in all regions of the UK. To receive the award, students from each university assess and grade the institutions’ overall progress against criteria that include Campaigning and Influencing, Procurement, Retail and Catering, and Research and Curriculum.
Creativity is key to becoming a Fairtrade University or College, with institutions also awarded points for implementing innovative ideas to encourage students and staff to act on global issues. Art installations, international debates, fashion shows and week-long public awareness-raising campaigns have all featured, as universities and colleges work their way towards the award.
The Fairtrade Foundation aims to foster a spirit of collaboration among participating institutions. As a result, partnership between students, academics and non-teaching staff across the university or college is strongly encouraged within the award structure.
The Fairtrade award scheme also recognises the extra efforts of institutions that go above and beyond. Bucks New University and Manchester University both received a one-star award for making additional commitments to champion Fairtrade in all areas of their work. The Universities of Chichester, Reading and Worcester all received the two-star award.