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Invest for Change goes on ethical investment training UK tour

September 1, 2022

Over 60 student representatives came together at 3 ethical investment workshops to learn more about transforming their universities’ investments in the interests of people and the planet.

The training was part of Invest for Change - a campaign that works with students to transform their universities' investments in the interests of students, communities, and the planet, not against them.

We know from the huge success of the fossil fuel divestment movement on UK campuses that students care deeply about how their universities invest. But intimidating financial terminology and a lack of familiarity with how universities fit into the wider financial system often prevent student leaders from feeling able to challenge and shape their universities’ investment policies. As part of SOS-UK’s commitment to empowering students to advocate for climate and social justice within their universities, Invest for Change developed a jargon-busting training day for student officers to help dismantle these barriers.

Over the last three weeks, we’ve been on the road, delivering Ethical Finance trainings to more than 60 elected student officers from Students’ Unions across the UK, with sessions in Cardiff, Glasgow and London.

Student Officers listen to part of the Invest for Change training at the Cardiff training day.

The training included a run-down of key ethical finance terminology to prepare students for sitting on university finance committees, a detailed explanation of how universities specifically invest their money – including case studies of the students’ own universities’ current investment policies - and examples of the major, real-world impact of different university investment approaches on people and planet. Invest for Change aims to turn this knowledge into action, so the second half of the training focused specifically on how students could mobilise to push for their institutions to invest for people and planet. This included mapping out alternative investment approaches rooted in climate and social justice principles, role-playing negotiations with university financial leadership and talking through effective campaigning strategies.

Amanat Chhina, a student representative who attended the London training day, said:

“The training allowed me to learn about how Universities are run and how students can take part to influence change. This was something I had very limited knowledge of and always thought that as a student it is not my place to speak about. It aided my understanding of finance and how many universities make unethical financial decisions.”
Student officers attending the London training day in front of one of UCL's main buildings

Feedback from attendees emphasised that having core finance terminology explained in an accessible way hugely improved their confidence to speak up on finance committees. Much of the feedback also centred on the value of networking with other officers across the country with a shared interest in ethical finance issues and having a forum to workshop different strategies for convincing universities to adopt investment policies that advance climate and social justice.

Student officers take a selfie in front of the green UCL sign at the London training!

A special thank you to Friends Provident Foundation, whose funding makes this project possible, to UCL, Glasgow and Cardiff Students’ Unions for generously hosting us – and of course to all the student reps who came along and made the sessions such a joy to run! We can’t wait to support them every step of the way in working to transform their universities’ investment policies over the year ahead.

Couldn’t make it to the training but want to get involved? Email Zak Coleman (zak.coleman@sos-uk.org), the SOS-UK lead for Invest for Change, to be added to the Invest for Change Officer WhatsApp group - or for any other support you'd like in campaigning for your university to invest for change. And make sure to check out our Invest for Change website and resource bank for more information.