Bath Spa University is where creative minds meet. We teach and research across art, sciences, education, social science, and business. The University employs outstanding creative professionals who support its aim to be a leading educational institution in creativity, culture and enterprise.
Our purpose is to challenge our students and staff to realise their talent and thrive, for their own benefit and for the wider good. By doing this we will think and make the world better.
Our purpose starts with our students and staff but extends to our local, regional and global communities through our teaching and learning, research and partnerships.
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What actions have you taken to deliver the aims described above?
The 17 SDGs offer us a widely agreed set of measures, against which we can chart our own sustainability
journeys, while working together to achieve well defined, common goals.
The HE sector has a key role to play in realisation of the SDGs. Across the World, HE institutions are adopting the Goals as a benchmark
against which they can measure their individual and collective progress.
In 2019, BSU became a signatory to the SDG Accord, under which, we committed to aligning our activities
to support progress towards the Goals, through our education, research and business activities.
Bath Spa University 2019/20 Sustainability Report – SDG progress
Goal 1: End poverty in all its forms everywhere
One of the most effective ways a university can tackle poverty is to ensure access to higher education for
students from disadvantaged backgrounds, represented in UK HE by Polar quintile participation
methodology. through our Access and Participation Agreement (A&PA) we are committed to engaging
with students from low participation groups, to facilitate social mobility.
There are many measures of success, which are reported against in the A&PA. However, as an example, in
2017/18, the proportion of students from POLAR4 Quintile 1 (the lowest participation areas) to attain a
First or upper Second Class Degree at BSU was 81%, compared with the UK average of 74.6%.
The A&PA sets out the details of a bursary award scheme, which is based on family household income
and POLAR4 distribution to increase participation from disadvantaged backgrounds. In 2018/19, 1,045
students from disadvantaged backgrounds were receiving financial support from BSU, which is around
13% of total student FTE.
Bath Spa is an active partner in the B&NES Food Poverty Action Partnership and the Sustainable Food
Partnership, both of which are directly addressing local poverty causes and resolutions.
The RESTART and Skills Bootcamp Programmes, in collaboration with Bath College, DfE, WECA and local
businesses. Offer the core aim of allowing the local community to have an accessible opportunity to
reskill in order to maximise employment and progression opportunities, whilst giving them the
opportunity to maximise their chances of re-employment and/or employment in a new sector by focusing
on ‘in demand’ skills from basic to advanced.
Goal 2: End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture
We have been a FairTrade University since 2012 and have achieved Silver Level in the Soil Association’s
Food for Life certification for our main food outlets. Our menus have a seasonal element and both
vegetarian and vegan options are available daily. We collect unwanted non-perishable foods throughout
the academic year and in particular as the students leave for home at the end of term and distribute
them to local food banks. Last year, we donated over 600 kg of food to the Fair Frome foodbank.
Partnership. Our refectory is on the Too Good to Go app ensuring that any leftover food is not wasted.
Bath Spa is an active partner in the B&NES Food Poverty Action Partnership and the Sustainable Food
Goal 3: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages
We provide comprehensive physical and mental health support for students and staff.
65 members of staff are trained Mental Health First aiders.
We have partnered with Fairfield Health Centre to provide free health and wellbeing support for our students.
Goal 4: Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all
Education is our core business. In 2019/20, we produced over 2,300 Graduates and Post-Graduates, which was down on the previous years, which were closer to 3,000. This is in addition to the qualifications awarded and education provided through our many academic partnerships. BSU leads and collaborates in education partnerships across the Globe, including partnerships with other education providers in the South West UK, such as Bath College and Weston College. We are the lead provider for the Teach First Leadership Programme in the South West. We are the lead university for Teach First in the South West region, responsible for the delivery of the Postgraduate Diploma in Education (PGDE) academic award for Teach First Cymru, working with Cardiff Metropolitan University who are the lead university for Teach First Cymru. The Development of a Refugee Teacher Certification Programme Enabled through Blended Learning in Egypt (ReTeCp) project is funded through the EU Erasmus+ programme, and will eventually give refugee teachers access to higher education through a postgraduate diploma focusing on refugee-centred teaching methods and practices.
Goal 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
Bath Spa strongly upholds an Equality Policy, which sets out to eliminate all forms of discrimination, including gender-based, amongst staff, students, customers, partners and people employed by the University from external organisations. We monitor gender-related pay disparities though our bi-annual equal pay review and have on-going targets and programmes to eliminate anomalies. In 2019/20, 51% of senior academic posts were occupied by female staff members and our most senior leader is a woman. Our student cohort is heavily female-biased. In 2020, over 70% of our Degrees were awarded to women.
Goal 6: Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all
We have automated metering on the water supplies to all our buildings to enable us to identify and prevent leakage as quickly as possible. We routinely measure water consumption against student and staff FTE and set targets for reduction. Water efficiency standards are used in the specification of water consuming infrastructure in all new builds and refurbishments. In 2019, our leak detection and remediation efforts reduced consumption at Newton Park by over 14,000 m3 , which reduced overall water consumption per FTE by 10% to 8.21 m3 /y. This work continues in an effort to use water resources more responsibly and to reduce associated costs. 2019/20 consumption data are skewed due to Covid, which has reduced consumption in most locations and the opening of the new Locksbrook Road campus, which has increased consumption almost by the same amount. Increases in the period 2016-18 were due to the addition of the Gardens and Green Park House accommodation units, with a total of approx. 1000 additional students living in BSU accommodation. To ensure that our business activities, particularly transport-related, do not cause pollution of our local water sources, we have robust spill management processes in place, with trained responders and spill response materials on hand. Our main car park areas have rainwater collection, with oil separators, which are emptied and made safe through hazardous waste processes. Our research partnerships, such as the RESPiRES project and those within the Hazard Risk and Disaster Research Group deal with water-related issues, in the context of climate change and social resilience.
Goal 7: Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all
Our approach since our first Carbon Reduction Management Plan in 2010, has been to minimise energy use, install renewables where possible and purchase renewable energy, in that order of priority. Over the last ten years, we have invested heavily in energy efficiency and carbon reduction activities and have reduced our energy intensity by around 43% from 290 to 164kWh/m2 and carbon intensity by over 63% from 92 to 33.5 kg CO2/m2 . These figures exclude 2020, which was negatively skewed due to Covid-related impacts. Since 2016, we have procured 100% renewable electricity, certified through the REGO (Renewable Energy Guarantees of Origin) chain of custody system. Twenty percent of our electricity is supplied via a long-term Power Purchase Agreement, directly from a wind operator. This supports the on-shore wind sector directly and improves the cost-effectiveness of further investment in new on-shore wind development. This was the first PPA of its kind in the UK HE sector and Bath Spa were one of a small group of SW universities, together with The Energy Consortium behind its development. Approximately 50% of the heat consumed on our main Newton Park campus is from locally sourced, renewable woodchip, which is certified and sustainable in origin and comes from commercial forestry in the Southwest UK. The plan is for the vast majority of our heat to be provided by renewable electricity by 2030. We have approximately 110 kw of photovoltaic panels installed across the University, which produces in the region of 100,000 kWh of clean electricity per year. We are hoping to extend this but are currently constrained by Local Authority planning restrictions. Bath Spa partner with a number of universities across the South West and with our energy services provider to support the expansion of renewable energy through our collective purchasing power. As a group, we have been instrumental in forcing the expansion of EDF’s non-nuclear renewable portfolio and in the development of the first Power Purchase Agreement for renewable energy in the UK.
Goal 8: Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
As one of the top 5 employers in the region, we have a significant impact on the local economy. All our staff are paid above the living wage and benefit from generous, health and wellbeing protections and a defined-benefit pension in retirement. University services are provided from in-house staff and we do not outsource to save cost on staff wages. We work closely with unions representing our workforce and support union membership. We have a wide and growing range of partnerships with regional businesses, Local Authorities, education providers and international organisations, which is led by Prof Andy Salmon. Amongst these partnerships are the RESTART Programme and Skills Bootcamps. in collaboration with Bath College. The core aim of RESTART is to ensure that the local community have an accessible opportunity to reskill in order to maximise employment and progression opportunities, whilst giving them the opportunity to maximise their chances of re-employment and/or employment in a new sector by focusing on ‘in demand’ skills from basic to advanced.
Goal 9: Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation
While we are not a STEM-focused institution, our science and mathematics PGCE students will be laying the foundations for future engineers and scientists and the budding entrepreneurs and business professionals from our Bath School of Business will, in many instances, be playing their part in sustainable industrial growth. Our Global Development and Sustainability Graduates will enter the field of global development with a well-rounded understanding of the key role of industrialisation in economic development and the dire consequences of this taking place without sustainability at the forefront.
Goal 10: Reduce inequality within and among countries
Bath Spa has used its wealth of expertise to set out a forward-thinking and comprehensive approach to increasing participation from underrepresented groups and monitoring success, through its Access & Participation Plan. We value diversity and we recognise that different people bring different ideas, knowledge and culture, and that difference can bring strength, creativity and innovation. We believe that discrimination or exclusion based on individual characteristics and circumstances, represents a waste of talent and a denial of opportunity for self-fulfilment. To ensure that equality is at the heart of how we behave in the work place, we operate according to a comprehensive Equality Policy. We also believe strongly in pay equality between male and female staff. We monitor and report publicly on our performance. Bath Spa is a leader in widening participation in HE, which is a key measure in reducing inequality. In partnership with Bath University, Annette Hayton, University of Bath and Dr Andrew Bengry, Bath Spa University have developed a methodology for measuring the efficacy of widening participation measures, which is now widely used under the NERUPI partnership. NERUPI is a community of practice for those seeking to reduce inequalities in higher education access, participation and progression, with over 60 member organisations. we are able to share our expertise and explore new approaches to evaluating the impact of interventions in this complex and evolving area.
Goal 11: Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
The ways in which we carry our business activities and relationships with our neighbouring communities, to contribute to the sustainability of our local City region are many and wide ranging. However, some examples include; considerable funding for local arts and heritage organisations; partnerships with Local Authorities, and commerce groups. As part of our ISO14001 process, we hold and review annually an “Interested Parties Register”, which records our relationships with organisations, communities and individuals that might be impacted by our operations. We are part of many partnerships, which contribute to the sustainability of our local region and its communities. Some, such as the Student Community Partnership (SCP) have been running for many years, others, such as the RESTART partnership are new. The SCP is a partnership between Bath Spa University, the University of Bath, our respective Students’ Unions and B&NES. The partnership works with students from both universities, the Local Authority and local residents, with the aim of maintaining a positive impact on the local communities from students living amongst them.
Goal 12: Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
Our work over the last ten years on energy efficiency, which is covered under Goals 7 & 13 has contributed considerably to the Goal of responsible consumption. Our Sustainable Food Policy, Soil Association “Food for Life” award and our Fair Trade certification all contribute to responsible production and consumption. However, it is our waste and recycling management process and efforts to eliminate single-use items from our operations that have contributed most significantly. Sadly, the return of single use items has been one of the many negative consequences of the Covid pandemic and it is likely to take a few years to regain the ground we had made in this area. Our goal in the development of our waste and recycling strategy in 2014 was to maximise the recovery of materials to help create a circular economy. Our approach to achieve this has been to make it as simple as possible, with consistent messaging and identical choices at every bin location. We collect just three waste streams, Recycling, Food and Non-recycling at every location across all campuses and halls. In addition, we segregate all commercial waste into metal, wood, green waste and “general”, which is segregated for materials recovery, post-collection. This approach has enabled us to reach c. 78-82% recycling rate for the last five years, except for a blip in 2016/17, which was due to systemic difficulties in a newly acquired residential accommodation development in Bath (Figure 3). Recycling rate for 2019/20 is shown, despite possible Covid-related effect, as it is a proportion of total waste and thereby normalised against overall quantity changes.
Goal 13: Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts
We have delivered our 2010-20 Carbon Reduction Management Plan, which set out a pathway to reducing carbon emissions by 50%, from 4,000 t/y, by 2020. During this time, our estate has expanded by around 50%, our student accommodation has increased by approximately 1,000 beds and we have seen an approximate 30% increase in the operational hours. Nevertheless, prior to the Covid pandemic, we had reduced carbon emissions by 36% in total and by 63% per m2 (Figure 5). This was aided by a reduction in the embedded carbon in our electricity supply, which was included in our initial modelling. However, since 2016, we have purchased 100% renewable electricity, certified under the REGO chain of custody audit process. If we were to report this as zero carbon, our annual emissions would be c.1,000 tonnes or a 75% reduction from baseline. We monitor emissions from both commuting and business travel. Both of these categories are included in the scope of our second Carbon Reduction Management Plan and we are working to reduce the impacts from both. Bath Spa University is an active member of the Bath and North East Somerset Council, Climate Emergency Public Services Group. The purpose of this group is to develop collaborative solutions to reduce carbon emissions in the Bath and North East Somerset region, towards a 2030 Net Zero Target.
Goal 14: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development
We manage our campuses in a manner that protects surface and groundwater, beyond that which is required under environmental legislation. We have installed surface water interceptors with oil separation in our primary car park to prevent contaminated surface washings from entering the sewerage system or the surface waters on our main campus, which includes two lakes and a stream. We also have trained spill management teams at each site, with appropriate spill management materials and run periodic training drills to ensure good practice. Page 42 of 52 We only serve fish from MSC-accredited sources in our catering establishments. The RESPiRES partnership, which looks at the value to urban communities of healthy water spaces.
Goal 15: Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss
Bath Spa University’s main campus, is located on a historically-important, Capability Brown-styled parkland estate, called Newton Park. While this comes with management constraints to maintain the heritage value, it gives great opportunity for habitat creation and biodiversity enhancement. The Estate is managed under a ten-year Biodiversity and Habitat Management Plan, which is independently monitored by Nicolas Pearson Associates. This has led to the creation, enhancement and maintenance of several important grassland, woodland and aquatic habitats. The University is also a registered Hedgehog Friendly Campus.
Goal 16: Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels
DESTIN - Journalism Education for Democracy in the Ukraine: Developing Standards, Integrity and Professionalism This project, coordinated by Bath Spa University, in partnership with the Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv, Institute of Journalism, aims to improve and develop Ukrainian journalism education, by reviewing and reforming current BA and MA programmes by raising the quality to EU standards, improving students’ employability and international mobility, and promoting wider media literacy. DESTIN is co-funded by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union – Key Action 2: Cooperation for innovation and the exchange of good practices – Capacity Building in the field of Higher Education. This project brings together 20 European institutions, including 10 Ukrainian universities, governmental and non-governmental organisations in the Ukraine, as well as universities and non-governmental organisations from United Kingdom, Austria, Ireland, the Netherlands, Poland, and Sweden.
Goal 17: Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development
Bath Spa’s commitment to the development of partnerships for the betterment of society and humanity is clear from our 2030 Strategy, which states our purpose as: “Our purpose is to challenge our students and staff to realise their talent and thrive, for their own benefit and for the wider good. By doing this we will think and make the world better.” We recognise the key role that strong partnerships have to play in realising this purpose and have set partnership building as a pillar for success in our strategy. Under the strategic theme of Enterprise, we state: We will build partnerships and work with employers, cultural organisations, academics and alumni.
These partnerships will:
● foster economic and cultural development (local, regional, international)
● improve our student learning and graduate outcomes
● ensure that our work is relevant, useful and needed.
Many of the partnerships we have with institutions around the world have been outlined already in this document, as they pertain to particular SDGs. However, this has not included our flagship international partnership with HE institutions from several continents, GALA, the Global Academy of Liberal Arts. The GALA network forms a key part of BSU’s international strategy, supporting opportunities for international engagement by staff and students primarily through BSU’s GALA Outreach scheme that has provided c.200 awards since 2017/18. GALA is an international community of diverse, innovative, and socially responsible universities and colleges whose aims are to transform lives and to enhance global understanding through interdisciplinary collaboration in teaching and research. There are currently 19 partners across the globe, from Los Angeles to Adelaide, from Moscow to Johannesburg. The network was founded by BSU in 2014 and continues to managed by a team at BSU (Professor Ian Gadd, Professor Rebecca McGuire-Snieckus, Gin Darcy), under the oversight of the PVC for Research and Enterprise. It is currently restructuring its governance and finances to move to a shared-cost model that will be more equitable and sustainable in the long term. As part of this, GALA has agreed a set of network objectives (i.e. things that GALA will aim to do as a group) and a longer list of partner objectives (i.e. objectives provided by each partner that align with their own institutional/faculty strategy) for 2020-23. The former includes an expectation that GALA will have “facilitated innovative and interdisciplinary collaborations in teaching and research, some of which will have explicitly engaged with the Sustainable Development Goals”.