University Social Responsibility

This is the first time in six centuries that the University of St Andrews will visibly place social responsibility at the heart of its strategic plan.

In implementing our strategic plan, we will act ethically, transparently, sustainably, and for the wider public benefit at all times. This broad commitment to social responsibility and sustainability will shape our policies, practices, and respect for our environment. We will involve our students, staff, trade unions, alumni, partners, suppliers, and our wider communities in developing and delivering the actions and strategies required to embed this in our day to day activities.

We believe that social responsibility is a deep-woven thread which already runs through much of what we do, but we acknowledge that this is the first time in six centuries that the University of St Andrews will visibly place social responsibility at the heart of its strategic plan.

Graphic of hands shaking

With our students and staff we will:

  • Support the right of our staff and students to freedom of expression, and encourage an understanding of the responsibility that accompanies this right
  • Defend the principle of academic freedom for all staff in their teaching and research
  • Expect that our staff and students will at all times observe a culture of tolerance, respect, kindness, and courtesy towards each other, and to our broader communities
  • Follow and contribute to best practice in the pursuit of greater equality and diversity
  • Demonstrate how we are able to invest in our staff, and ensure our staff are closely involved in planning the prioritisation of resources
  • Involve our students at the heart of University governance and decision-making
  • Nurture a culture of civic engagement and volunteering in our staff and students, connected where relevant to our alumni and international commitments
  • Ensure that University funds are invested in a socially responsible manner

With our community – local, national, and international – we will:

  • Recognise that our day-to-day activities and plans for growth have a profound impact locally. This Scottish town has been our home for over 600 years and it is integral to our appeal to prospective students and staff
  • Ensure all project boards, planning discussions, and activities are ‘community-aware’
  • Communicate promptly and transparently with our neighbours, stakeholders and partners, listen to ideas, and be willing to adapt where there is evidence that we can improve our proposals and practices
  • Engage our alumni locally, nationally, and internationally, and encourage their many kinds of commitment
  • Make our research findings widely available for local, national, and global benefit
  • Develop our cultural assets and activities in ways that engage our community while also supporting the core mission of the University
  • Consume ‘more of our own smoke’ – ensure wherever possible that the provision of services to students and staff has a wider positive impact on the broader population of St Andrews, especially the provision of new student accommodation to lessen the demand on private housing in St Andrews and North-East Fife, currently one of the most pressured housing areas in the UK

With our suppliers we will:

  • Work with businesses whose principles and commitments to the environment and sustainability align with our own
  • Work with local businesses wherever possible, and consider the impacts of our growth and activities on the sustainability of businesses in St Andrews, Fife, and further afield
  • Operate rigorous accounting standards, pay our dues timeously, and ensure our interactions with suppliers are transparent and courteous

In relation to the environment we will:

  • Espouse policies that improve rather than impoverish our environment
  • Build upon our environmental leadership to ensure our students graduate with a clear sense of their environmental responsibilities as global citizens
  • Vigorously pursue a programme of carbon reduction and efficient use of heat and water resources across our estate, and embed a culture of deep-seated institutional commitment to sustainable practice and policy
  • Acknowledge that we cannot pick and choose the size of our carbon footprint. Our recruitment policies and the strong demand for places amongst overseas students mean our business model is heavily dependent on burning aviation fuel, and as such the University is a contributor to global carbon production
  • Develop our own alternative energy sources, including biomass and solar, to reduce carbon emissions and decrease our reliance on external providers and the fossil fuel industry, with a view to becoming carbon neutral for our energy


‘World-leading St Andrews’ is both a distinction and a perpetual challenge and we must act strategically to deliver on the ambition that accompanies our continuing success.