Hope lies in new generation of 'dynamic and interconnected students'

Jenny Jamieson, Policy Officer at the Scottish Funding Council outlines the role EAUC is playing to ensure sustainable development in the education sector.

Few people outside the world of further and higher education will have heard of the EAUC. Even its flagship international events may be unknown to many.

However, the EAUC represents teaching and research institutions with over two million students, 400,000 staff and a collective spending power of over £25 billion. You could also argue that the EAUC is an organisation ahead of its time.
The EAUC was launched 23 years ago, one year before the Kyoto Protocol and ten years before Al Gore rang the alarm bell in his documentary “An Inconvenient Truth”.

It exists to be the environmental and sustainability champion for further and higher education and its annual showcase is the Green Gown Awards.
As well as the UK and Ireland Awards there are now also the Australasian Green Gown Awards and the GUPES Green Gown Awards which cover six UN Environment Programme regions, including Africa, Asia and Latin America.
Looking at the balance of changes that have taken place since its establishment, the EAUC points to growing environmental and human emergencies.

However, it sees hope in a new generation of what it describes as “dynamic and interconnected students” – an astute observation in light of the recent climate change marches and the interest around Greta Thunberg’s visit to the UK.
The EAUC’s approach to its task is progressive. It believes that the issues of social, environmental and economic sustainability are interlinked and sees a need for the response to solving them to reflect this reality.

Achieving that kind of inter-disciplinary action is seen as a challenge but one for which Scotland, as a small and connected nation with world-leading teaching and research, is well suited.

In Scotland the EAUC is funded by the Scottish Funding Council (SFC). The investment is a key part of the Scottish Funding Council’s commitment to addressing the climate crisis.

The EAUC is a vital catalyst and support for so much of the work that Scotland’s colleges and universities are doing in response to the climate crisis.

In light of new targets for carbon reduction its role is more important than ever.

This article first appeared in The Herald newspaper as part of its Climate for Change campaign.
Delivered by EAUC