Why You Should Care if Your University is Sustainable | Top Universities

Why You Should Care if Your University is Sustainable

By Stephanie L

Updated March 18, 2021 Updated March 18, 2021

Sponsored by University of Padua

In September 2019, the QS Environmental Concerns Survey found that while up to 49 percent of students considered their university to be ‘somewhat environmentally friendly’, a whopping 94 percent felt their university could still do a lot more.

Would your decision of where to study be influenced by how sustainable and environmentally friendly a university is? While it’s becoming increasingly apparent that students care about the environment and sustainability, we look at why this may make all the difference when it comes to choosing a university.

Universities can lead by example

In recent years, the world’s awareness of sustainability and the climate emergency has risen dramatically. Universities, in particular, have a responsibility to lead by example and an increasing number are rolling out key sustainability and environmental initiatives, such as the University of Padua in northern Italy.

Aware of the role it plays in the training of future generations, the university aims to “promote the development of a culture based on universal values such as human rights, peace, environmental protection and international solidarity”.

Its new ‘UniPadova Sostenibile’ project aims to support and promote actions and initiatives towards a greener and more inclusive university and surrounding community.

It’s something that is easily taken for granted

It’s easy to pick up a bottle of water on campus when you forget or can’t be bothered to carry your own around with you – but this is something the University of Padua is working hard to stop. From small changes to lobbying for bigger action, such challenges can present great opportunities when it comes to sustainability.

The university’s ‘Plastic Free UniPD’ project aims to reduce the amount of plastic in the university’s on site beverage and food services and facilities.

By re-engaging students and educating them about the importance of sustainability, the university can motivate them to take action on certain issues that may not have once been considered a priority.

There’s an impact on the local community

Universities play a wider role in the local community too and vice versa, meaning positive and clear external collaboration with local authorities is essential. For instance, the city of Padua has developed a 170km cycling path network and has 28 bike sharing stations along with 600 shared bikes with special discounts for students.

By encouraging students to cycle to class, instead of taking public transport or driving, the university is helping to reduce transport emissions and improving air pollution.

The world needs those who are in the know

When we talk about universities being sustainable, it’s good to consider not just what it is they’re doing practically in and around campus, but what they’re doing with their curriculum.

Another report conducted by QS in October 2019 found that just over half of students surveyed would like to see environmental issues integrated into student life through both extracurricular activities and academically, whether that’s in their coursework, dissertations or work placements.

The University of Padua is going one step further and offers three English-taught master’s degrees in sustainable agriculture, local development, and environmental engineering. The university has also ranked seventh in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals Fund for Quality Education which looks for quality, fair, and inclusive education.

So, it’s not just whether a university is looking to reduce its carbon footprint and increase its recycling initiatives. A truly sustainable institution is also looking at the degree programs it offers as well as what it’s doing in the wider community.

This article was originally published in March 2020 . It was last updated in March 2021

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Written by

As the Head of Sponsored Content for TopUniversities.com and TopMBA.com, Stephanie creates and publishes a wide range of articles for universities and business schools across the world. She attended the University of Portsmouth where she earned a BA in English Language and an MA in Communication and Applied Linguistics.

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