Oxford 54th in university league table… for ethical performance

Oxford criticised over ethical investment policy and ties with fossil fuel industry

Oxford has performed poorly in a league table that ranks universities on their ethical and environmental performance.

‘The People & Planet University League Table’ uses a range of measures to rank universities, including: ethical investment, carbon reduction, workers rights, waste and recycling, energy sources, and education for sustainable development.

Oxford came 54th out of 154 UK universities, up from 115th in 2015. It performed particularly badly on measures of carbon reduction, workers rights, education on sustainable development, and its ethical investment policy.

The table comes a week after a Guardian report showed that Oxford and many of its colleges have secretly invested tens of millions of pounds in offshore funds supporting the gas and coal industry.

Cambridge, which was also implicated in the Guardian report, came below Oxford at 58, an improvement from 113th two years ago. Oxford Climate Justice Campaign told Cherwell: “In a world facing climate catastrophe, an institution like Oxford must prove its commitment to preserving the future in order to remain relevant.

“The assessment released this week by People and Planet may be one of the only university ranking systems that matters much in the near future.

“It certainly will be one of the only measures that will matter to future students of Oxford, if Oxford survives the economic and geological crisis it is helping to create.

“We are grateful for the thorough analysis, and we hope Oxford leadership accesses and reads the report in full.”

The Climate Justice Campaign highlighted three areas where Oxford underperformed compared to other universities and called on the University to improve its commitment to environmental practices. A spokesperson told Cherwell: “Oxford needs to commit to a comprehensive… ethical investment strategy by divesting from all fossil fuels in its direct and indirect investments.

“It should look to one of its own departments – the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment – for new sustainable investment opportunities.

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“Oxford must actively encourage education for sustainable development in all of its departments, not just those specializing in environmental concerns.

“The future of our globe and the responsibility of global citizenship should be a task of concern for every mind entering the walls of this institution.

“Oxford must hire sufficient human resources to see its sustainability goals through.

“Perhaps, if Oxford is unwilling to cut ties with its major donors from the fossil fuel industry, then it could redirect some of the funding from Shell and BP to hire enough experts and sustainability scholars to help us compete in next year’s university sustainability report.”

As a whole, universities performed better than a decade ago when the league table was first published. In 2007 only five universities were recycling more than half their waste. The number is now 85. Manchester Metropolitan University topped this year’s table, ahead of Gloucester and Nottingham Trent. LSE came top out of Russell Group universities.

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