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Student views on university financial decisions and ethical investments

June 28, 2023

Invest for Change is an SOS-UK campaign working with students and staff to ensure that university investments work in the interests of people and planet, not against them. The campaign supports divestment campaigns which aim to stop universities investing in the companies most responsible for driving inequality, injustice and climate breakdown. In particular, arms and fossil fuel companies. But it also urges universities to go further, demanding that universities become active shareholders in every company they invest in by demanding high standards of environmental and social justice. And it seeks to unlock the potential of university money by encouraging positive impact investments in areas like social housing, renewable energy and the circular economy to help build a just, sustainable world for students to graduate into.

As with everything SOS-UK does, Invest for Change is a student-led campaign. We regularly consult students so that their views inform everything we do. This year, we conducted a survey of students across the country about their views on ethical investment and where universities should be putting their money.

The key findings from the research are:

  • 57% of students agree that universities have a responsibility to address the harmful impact of previous investments by investing in solutions to environmental and social issues
  • 80% of respondents think that the potential to maximise benefits for people/communities should be an important factor for their university to consider when making decisions on financial investments and 76% of respondents say the same for the potential to maximise benefits for the environment
  • Respondents would like to see their universities investing in companies providing affordable basic services including housing, healthcare and education (56%), renewable energy companies (45%), businesses contributing to the sustainable use of resources (40%)

These results make one thing clear: students want their universities to be prioritising climate and social responsibility in their investment decisions. They understand that financial sustainability and responsibility means taking responsibility for the harm investments can cause in the wider world. And they are increasingly choosing their university with these considerations in mind.

For more details, read the full research report or check out our other research projects.

For any student interested in getting involved in the Invest for Change campaign, please contact zak.coleman@sos-uk.org and check out the Invest for Change website.