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 2017.

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 2016/17 to raise awareness and engagement.

  • An Environment & Sustainability online open forum was set up for staff in 2017 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 Week and in 2017 following Green Week in March there will be another Green Week focus in November to highlight sustainability activities and raise awareness amongst students, including those that have just started in the new academic year at UCA.
  • In 2017, 247 Farnham students and 192 staff chose to complete a survey on Sustainable Travel at Farnham Campus as part of the University’s Sustainable Travel Plan. Students and staff at Canterbury, Epsom and Rochester will be invited to complete surveys in late 2017.
  • 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
UCA Students' Union and UCA were presented with a Green Impact Bronze Award by the National Union of Students in June 2016 to recognise achievements in sustainability.

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 first crop of cabbages, beans and other vegetables have been harvested by students in 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