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Sustainability

The University of St Andrews Strategy 2018-2023 commits us to acting ethically, transparently, sustainably, and for the wider public benefit at all times.

As we champion sustainability across our work, we will continue to demonstrate environmental leadership in our actions and policies. Students are placed at the centre of our approach to sustainability, and we aim for all our students to graduate with a clear sense of their environmental and social responsibilities as global citizens.  

Line in the sand

In 2019, our students led a community protest on the iconic West Sands of St Andrews as part of international climate strikes, and the Students’ Association Environment Subcommittee catalyses action and reflection.

Students line up across the West Sands beach to protest climate change

Watch the Line in the Sand climate strike video.

Taking a lead

The University of St Andrews aims to set the pace in the Scottish higher education sector for environmental change. 

  • Education: in 2020 we launched a hands-on education in practical sustainability for all students entering the University. Find out more about the Training in Environmental and Sustainable Action (TESA) module.
  • Research: we continue to build our disciplinary and interdisciplinary expertise in sustainability research, adding reflections from the Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences to insights from the Sciences.
  • Engagement: the St Andrews Prize for the Environment has supported and celebrated environmental innovation for two decades.
  • Alumni: our graduates such as Dr Asha de Vos, a marine biologist, ocean educator, and pioneer of blue whale research from Sri Lanka, go on to change the world.
  • Energy: in 2018 we opened a biomass plat at Eden Campus and now heat over 40 of our buildings via a pioneering district heating system.
  • Investments: we have a socially responsible investment policy in place for all University funds.

Read more about our achievements on the sustainability in action page

The Environmental Sustainability Board

To deepen ongoing work and respond to Scottish Government legislation to be net-zero for carbon by 2045, the Environmental Sustainability Board (ESB) was launched by the Principal in February 2020.

The ESB is purposed to give bold strategic guidance to the University. It is chaired by Professor Sir Ian Boyd, FRSE, FRSB, and has nine members appointed from across all parts of the University in an open application process. The ESB is supported by advisers, representing the key offices needed to deliver sustainability at St Andrews, and four students participate.

The main task of the ESB over 2020 is to draft a new Environmental Sustainability Strategy for the University, in consultation with the University community and our partners.

Five working groups add to the impact of the ESB:

  • Sustainability in the Curriculum
  • Students and Community
  • Research
  • Operational Adaptation
  • Estate, Energy and Environment.

Each of these groups engages with people from key parts of the University, building an extensive network of expertise.

The ESB Chair is supported by an advisory group of senior University members.