From September 2017, the Fairtrade Foundation teamed up with the National Union of Students to pilot a new Fairtrade Award for Universities and Colleges across the UK.
The award builds on existing offers, taking on board feedback from the sector in what institutions truly value, as well as what changes and innovations they would like to see. It is being piloted by 12 universities and colleges (June 2017 – May 2018), with a view to launching the new award in June 2018.
Joanna Milis, Education Campaigns Manager at the Fairtrade Foundation says; “The current Fairtrade University and Colleges Award has been running since 2003 and started out very much about student campaigning. We recognise that there are many different ways that universities engage with Fairtrade and lots of opportunities to deepen their engagement with issues around trade and power in supply chains, and looking at the procurement and policies within their own institutions. The new award will bring together the expertise from the Fairtrade Foundation and the NUS to offer something new and exciting to support institutions.”
Fairtrade is a grassroots movement supported by 1,174 schools, 631 towns and 7,566 places of worship that have achieved a Fairtrade Award across the UK. This new award will celebrate how even more people, including students, are helping to support farmers and workers on Fairtrade farms across the world. Growing awareness of Fairtrade will help build the market for producers, ensuring they receive a fair wage and income in order to improve the futures of their families and communities.
Robbie Young, NUS Vice President (Society and Citizenship) says; “We’re seeing an increasing concern from students about their impact to the planet and how the choices they make affect people down the supply chain. The values of Fairtrade are part of the core values of our student movement and we should be proud to celebrate the achievements of students’ unions. Thousands of students and unions have already shown the power and value of Fairtrade but initiatives like this one will provide a platform for further success.”
Key differences in the proposed 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 for universities, (low or no fee for colleges- TBC), 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.
Once the pilot is complete, an audit will take place in May-June 2018 and participants will receive their Fairtrade Awards. The awards will be launched nationwide from summer 2018.