100 UK universities divest from fossil fuels

100 UK universities divest from fossil fuels
A significant victory for the divestment movement has been announced! Img source: Callum Shaw / Unsplash

A huge milestone was hit late October as it was announced that the 100th UK university has cut ties with the fossil fuel industry. Coventry University has declared that it is divesting all fossil fuel companies from its £43.6 million investment portfolio.

The action follows a nine-month student effort. A significant victory for the nationwide divestment movement.

In the UK, divestment campaigns in Higher Education Institutions are coordinated by the student activist network People & Planet. Their Fossil Free campaign that influences universities uses divestment as a tool for stigmatising the fossil fuel industry.

The goal of the campaign is to raise awareness of where university investments are going.

At the time of the campaign launch, no UK Higher Education Institution had yet committed to divest from the fossil fuel industry.

In 2014, the University of Glasgow became the first university in the UK – and Europe – to go Fossil Free. Thus paving the way for the 99 other universities that have followed since.

Fast-forward to today, two-thirds of UK universities have divested from fossil fuel companies.

Universities and sustainability 🌎

The news comes during a period where Higher Education Institutions are under increasing pressure to become more sustainable. This can be contributed to the rise of the climate-conscious student population. As more Gen Zers contemplate their future professions, the impact of climate change on their attitudes becomes apparent in a number of ways including their decision-making when selecting a university.

Students are paying close attention to environmental impact rankings like those developed by Times Higher Education which show how universities around the world are committing to the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Furthermore, the People & Planet University League table also analyses and determines the sustainable ranking for many of the top universities around the country.

Aside from the traditional factors that play a role in influencing university choice such as course and programme availability, students want to know that universities are incorporating sustainable practices. Some of the ways UK universities are taking action to be kinder to our planet, other than divesting in fossil fuels, include:

  • Making impact investments
  • SDG-focused Research and Knowledge Exchange projects
  • Sustainable food procurement
  • Banning single-use plastics on site
  • Compost and recycling bins around campus
  • Switching to green energy alternatives
  • Environmentally-focused classes and workshops

The announcement that 100 universities have opted to divest from fossil fuels is a massive milestone in the journey of UK higher education institutions becoming more sustainable.

Here at KEVRI, we are also working with universities towards a shared goal of sustainable development by helping them to optimise their SDG-led activities and to enhance their social and economic impact through our data capture tool.

Want to find out more about KEVRI and how our software can optimise your university's Research, Knowledge Exchange and Impact efforts? Get in touch today!



KEVRI is a collaborative software platform and consultancy that helps you surface innovation at your organisation and support impact pipelines. Email us at info@kevri.co to find out more!