Universities and Colleges

Take action in your institution to join a worldwide movement for change.

All large organisations have large environmental and social impacts – positive and negative. Universities and colleges are unique places. The biggest impact a university or college has is its graduates.

The students enrolled in universities and colleges are at a pivotal time in their lives for forming their values and shaping their future habits.

By encouraging students to explore their understanding of the social and environmental impacts of their decisions, and making ethical and sustainable the norm, institutions can have a hugely positive impact.

Upon leaving education, the attitudes and behaviours that make ethical consumers will remain with the students.

The Fairtrade University and College Award recognises that institutions have numerous communities (students, academics, non-academic professional staff), and often a significant role in reaching out into different communities.

Fairtrade’s vision is a world in which all producers can enjoy secure and sustainable livelihoods, fulfil their potential and decide on their future.

We believe that by connecting disadvantaged producers with consumers, we can all work to promote fairer trading conditions and empower producers to combat poverty.

The award programme recognises that there are many different activities that take place within the institutions that help us to achieve our vision – including purchasing Fairtrade products, campaigning, teaching, research and outreach. The award has a large number of optional criteria to choose from to reflect the different strengths different institutions have.

NUS research tells us that 90% of students say they want to buy more products that don’t harm the people that produce them and 84% say they trust the FAIRTRADE Mark the most of all product marks. There is a huge appetite amongst students to understand the impact the products they buy are having on the people and the planet along the supply chain, and to buy ethically sourced products. The partnership between the Fairtrade Foundation and NUS, with support from a group of pilot institutions has allowed the development of a robust but achievable set of standards for the revised award.

The new award scheme will build on existing offers, taking on board previous feedback from the sector on what institutions truly value, as well as what changes they would like to see, such as more scope for continual improvement, recognition of their wider ethical sourcing efforts and more ideas and support for developing activities in your institution.

Key differences in the new award are:

  • The introduction of new themes and actions in the award criteria, offering opportunity for deeper engagement across a broader range of areas.
  • The introduction of tiered award levels to enhance scope for continual improvement and long-term engagement.
  • Scope for recognition of wider ethical sourcing and trade justice efforts beyond Fairtrade certified products.
  • The introduction of an on-site audit, undertaken by trained student auditors through NUS’s highly successful existing student auditor programme.

  • Enhanced support from NUS and Fairtrade. New resources, tools and support to ensure universities and colleges can make the most of their participation and achieve their goals.
  • More scope for measuring impact: Through NUS’s programme of student surveys and database of over 700k students, improved monitoring will show the impact the award scheme is having on attitudes, understanding and ethical consumption and sourcing practice in the HE and FE sector.
  • The introduction of award scheme participation fees to ensure that Fairtrade and NUS can sustainably offer an enhanced award scheme that meets the needs of the sector and provides good value for money.

The Fairtrade University and College Award Programme Outline

  • Building a network of partnerships is also central to the awards and enables collaborative approaches to larger national and international responsible trade and consumption campaigns.

In order to get the standard award, there are 11 mandatory criteria to achieve, which mirror the five goals of the previous award. The rest are all optional criteria that institutions can take any number of to achieve additional ‘stars’ for the award, ranging from 1 to 3 dependent on level of attainment.

The award criteria include actions that may include staff from the procurement, catering, student union, teaching staff and also students, and a partnership approach is encouraged.

Award cycle

The new FTUC Awards programme is open for registration now and will work across a two year cycle.

Institution and union partnerships will register and work for an award using our bespoke online toolkit, structured to enable the partnership to upload evidence for each criterion, track progress and engage a working group in their work.

Partnerships will have two years to complete as much or as little from the toolkit as they decide, with support and/or resources from NUS and the Fairtrade Foundation throughout.

In March-May 2020, NUS and the Fairtrade Foundation will support the recruitment and lead the training of on-site student auditors who will verify the organisation’s toolkit submission.

Accreditations will then be awarded and remain valid for two years, until the next audit date.

The participation fee

To be able to offer this enhanced award scheme, we have introduced a participation fee for universities and colleges from 2018, and will no longer be accepting applications under the previous award scheme.

Register your interest

Find out more about taking part in the new award

For queries please contact university@fairtrade.org.uk

  • Becoming a Fairtrade university or college

    Everything you need to know about how to become a Fairtrade university or college.

  • Stocking Fairtrade at your university

    Students can encourage their institution and its student union to stock Fairtrade goods, food and drink wherever possible.

  • Top tips for Fairtrade universities

    Not sure where to start your campaign to achieve Fairtrade University or College status? Here are our top tips to get you started.

  • Case Study: Bournemouth University

    If you need ideas for your university or college’s Fairtrade campaign, take a look at what Bournemouth University and its team of students and staff have done for inspiration. 

  • Take action now

    Take up the fight for trade justice! Get your university involved in campaigns and events taking place across the UK and do your bit.