University of Leicester joins major new campaign committed to action on climate

  • New poll reveals parents in East Midlands do not fully recognise role of universities in tackling climate change
  • Parents of teenagers looking to universities to help their children find purposeful, climate-positive careers
  • Leicester has joined others across the UK to showcase their vital impact as part of major new campaign backed by actress and environmentalist Lily Cole
  • 46% of East Midlands parents believe that UK universities are equipping students with knowledge about climate change

Just four in 10 parents of 16 to 18-year-olds in the East Midlands believe that UK universities are equipping the next generation of students with knowledge about climate change, according to new research from Universities UK.

The findings come as universities across the UK launch a major new campaign backed by actress and environmentalist Lily Cole, to reaffirm their commitment to tackling the climate emergency through researching solutions, working with local communities, and equipping students and the public with much-needed climate literacy. 

However, parents see universities as crucial to delivering on the Department for Education’s sustainability strategy – published last week – with 64% believing that going to university would equip their child with skills and knowledge that can help make the world a better place, and 70% thinking a university degree is essential for those contemplating a career in tackling climate change. 

And given the opportunity, more than one in three UK adults (37%) would consider higher education as a route to upskilling to realign their career with efforts to combat the climate emergency.

Universities throughout the country have joined forces to set the record straight on their commitment to climate action and demonstrate the remarkable breadth of ways that universities are actively tackling the climate emergency through research, business and community interaction, and efforts to equip every graduate with climate literacy, no matter what subject they study.

Professor Elizabeth Jones, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Education at the University of Leicester, said: “Leicester has a proud track record of leading research which both measures and proposes solutions to the climate crisis.

“But this work can only be of use if we make sure we are equipping our students with the knowledge and skills they need to continue this vital work.

“That’s why we have ensured that 100% of our undergraduate modules offer teaching related to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.”

Leicester was also among the first UK universities to sign the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals Accord, and one of the only global universities to be a supporter of the UN Global Compact. 

Professor Steve West CBE, President of Universities UK, said: “We need urgent and ambitious climate solutions and must ensure future generations are given the chance to build the careers they need to tackle this emergency head on. Universities are crucial to this. A university education can make all the difference in equipping students with the knowledge and skills to help them to make a positive impact on the planet, whatever path they choose.

“Evidence shows that universities are centre-stage in the UK’s climate action efforts, from researching bold and innovative solutions, to mobilising businesses and local communities in ways that benefit us all. As a sector we can do even more to ensure the public hear this vital message, and that is what this campaign is all about.”