Credit: UofG Green New Deal

‘2:2’ for UofG on sustainability

By Odhran Gallagher

A University League Table for 2022/23 which measures sustainability has placed the University of Glasgow 75th in the UK.

The organisation People and Planet’s annual league table, designed to measure and rank individual universities overall sustainability performance has placed Glasgow 75th. This is significantly below Glasgow Caledonian University which came in at position 51, despite being a rise of nine places on last year’s rankings. According to the league table’s website, it is “the only comprehensive and independent league table of UK universities ranked by environmental and ethical performance”. 

The league tables are split into degree classifications, from 1st to fail, with Glasgow achieving a 2:2. However, Glasgow managed to place above close rivals the University of Edinburgh, ranked 81st, and the University of St Andrews, ranked 88th.  

The rankings are based on a rubric of factors such as carbon management and food sustainability as well as issues beyond the environment such as workers’ rights and ethical recruitment. UofG was described as “committed to education on sustainable development” (ESD) and subsequently scored highly in that category, being praised for “providing training and support to academic staff for ESD”, “using its campus as a living lab”, and “highlighting research in sustainability”. 

However, overall, the University was deemed not to have met its emissions reduction target. UofG also fell short in a majority of the areas measured by the league table, especially policy and strategy for not having any publicly available environmental policy. 

The University also performed poorly in its energy sources, it being one category in which they were ranked lower compared to last year. 45% of this category was measured from the total percentage of renewable energy generated through green tariffs for which UofG was given 0% this year and last. Additionally, UofG failed to make any improvement in the category of Waste and Recycling, leading to being ranked at 0% for a second year running – meaning that “the percentage waste recycled, composted or anaerobically digested, excluding construction waste” was negligible. 

During October of 2021, during COP26 in Glasgow, the Principal of the University, Anton Muscateli, released a statement claiming that Glasgow has “a clear strategy to be carbon neutral by 2030”. He stated that: “we have introduced changes to the curriculum…to make sure students are exposed to carbon literacy and climate change, so they leave knowing the vital role they can play in their careers.”

In a press release, People and Planet stated that on the whole, “Russell Group universities have again shown improvement”. However, Glasgow is still below average when compared to the group, as “the most common award for a Russell Group university is now a 2:1, up from a 2:2 last year.”

The full league table can be viewed here.


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