The Fairtrade Universities and Colleges Award programme is a partnership between the Fairtrade Foundation and NUS, with support from the EAUC. It supports universities, colleges and students unions to take a meaningful approach to embedding Fairtrade, ethical procurement and responsible consumption initiatives. 

Find full programme information here:

Our 2017 research found that HE and FE student respondents thought their university or college could do more to support Fairtrade by promoting and selling more products, and raising awareness of the concept. 52% also said accreditation marks are the most trusted source of information on the ethical credentials of products. 12 pilot partnerships (students unions and their institutions) representing a broad spectrum of the UK FHEI sector, worked with the NUS and Fairtrade Foundation in 2017-18 to devise the new award programme, now open to the whole sector.

The benefits of the new programme include:

•    The framework facilitates a close working partnership between students’ unions and their institutions through a set of criteria drawn from good practice across the sector. 
•    It reflects the diversity of Fairtrade activities and products, provides support for making institutional changes and challenges students to lead campaigns and partnership projects to tackle broader issues of trade justice and ethical consumption.
•    A list of actions, information on how to achieve them and links to additional resources and examples enables partnerships to strategise their approach. 
•    Providing support and access to NUS and the Fairtrade Foundations’ resources and expertise, as well as using an online toolkit for ongoing measurement of reach and impact, adds significant value to the previous accreditation process. 
•    The programme is audited on site, which is a new addition. Students are trained by the NUS and Fairtrade Foundations, giving an invaluable learning experience for them whilst ensuring the consistency of awards.
•    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.

The FTUC Award programme runs over a two year period for each partnership, with audits and results verification happening on an annual basis. It requires a partnership approach, with a team of students and staff from across the institution and students union collaborating across the programme. Every two years, partnerships are audited by a team of NUS and Fairtrade Foundation-trained students, resulting in an externally-verified audit report and verification of results. There are several tiers of accreditation, ranging from basic Fairtrade University or College status, through 1, 2 and 3 star awards. Accreditations remain valid for two years.
There are two membership levels – Supported and Basic, both 2 year membership fees:



Supported Membership

(first two years)


Semi-Supported Membership

(subsequent two years)

Higher Education Institutions

£2,135 +VAT

£1,085 +VAT

Further Education Institutions

£1,135 +VAT



Semi-Supported Membership is suitable for partnerships who have already gained accreditation, are well established and feel confident to reach or maintain their desired accreditation level with minimal support and direction from the NUS-Fairtrade team. It includes:

•    Access to nationally researched, devised and annually updated online toolkit to track progress 
•    Access to online resource bank of good practice 
•    Reactive technical toolkit support
•    Access to additional online resources and templates, branding, national communications support, series of peer learning webinars and support calls 
•    Nationally-led and supported communications – coordination of representation at conferences, press releases, creation of additional support materials and templates
•    Use of Fairtrade Universities and Colleges Award branding and idents, demonstrating participation in the programme
•    Involvement in nationally-led proactive campaign work, additional to standard NUS ethical supply chain support
•    Once in each two year subscription:
o    Recruitment support, nationally coordinated remote training, moderation of results, student certificates, generation of auditor reports 
o    Accreditation standard and certificate/award
o    Local feedback and national impact reports

Supported Membership is advised for all first-year applicants, and is suitable for partnerships who wish to be supported by the NUS-Fairtrade delivery team in order to gain or improve upon their achievement level within the award programme. It includes:

•    Basic membership as above
•    In-depth planning support meeting with your partnership to gain organisational buy-in, plan approach and set expectations
•    Regular ongoing one-to-one remote support – could include project planning, ideas generation, sharing of good practice
•    M&E processes to assess attitudinal and behaviour changes locally and nationally

Sign up to this programme through our online form