People and Planet statement from the Environmental and Sustainability Working Group

A photograph of a hill with a person and bike. White and green boxes in the centre have text on whic

The People and Planet University League was published at the end of 2022. The Open University was placed 116th this year, which is up 27 places from 2021/22. With a total score of 30% there’s a lot of potential for the University to move up the rankings. 

The Association’s Environmental and Sustainability Working Group are in the fortunate position that we’ve been in conversations with those people in the University who are responsible for some of the areas of work that the People and Planet League looks at. We’ve been reassured to learn that the reality behind the league is looking far more positive for the OU.  The methodology for the league relies on a lot of the information about work in each area being publicly available on the University website. With many initiatives across the University, the work is happening, but it hasn’t been publicised.  

Therefore, we’re calling on the OU to be more transparent and open about its work on Sustainability. It’s in our Environmental and Sustainability Action Plan, and it’s what OU students told us they wanted to see during Student Voice Week back in November 2022. 

We also think it’s important to highlight and acknowledge the uniqueness of the Open University, as a long-distance Higher Education establishment.  

As a group, we’re committed to working collaboratively with the University to improve the OU’s People and Planet Score and our recently published Action Plan will help us in that work. Four key areas for consideration will be those in which the University scored 0%, namely: 

  • Policy and Strategy
  • Environmental Auditing and Management Systems
  • Managing Carbon
  • Sustainable Food

Lou Robinson, co-Chair of the Environment and Sustainability Working Group said “We are fortunate here at the OU Students Association with a community of students passionate about sustainability, many volunteering significant time to championing improvement.  As a student, The Open University has taught me that a disappointing score is a valuable learning opportunity, a chance to reflect and work on feedback. We can apply this here. We have built a student-led action plan to guide us in supporting The Open University in delivering on Student Engagement and we look forward to seeing the progress and opportunity that our partnership can bring to our students and our planet.” 

Nick Braithwaite, VCE Sponsor for Sustainability and Executive Dean, STEM faculty said “The OU is dedicated to creating and sharing learning to realise social and environmental justice.  Our primary roles are:  

  1. as an educator – placing sustainability at the heart of our teaching research and knowledge exchange.  

  2. as a business – championing best practice across all four nations of the UK.   

We are working with our Students Association in evaluating our work as an educator through the Responsible Futures (SOS) initiative.  We are also working with our students to ensure that our shared journey to net zero is appropriately recorded and visible so that they can be justifiably proud of our progress.” 

If you’re passionate about sustainability, we know our Environmental Sustainability Society would love to hear from you.