- Website & Social
- Social Impact Declaration
- Social Impact Statements
The University of Westminster started out 180 years ago as the first polytechnic in London and one of the first in the UK, established to educate the working people of London. Today, we continue to build on this reputation, helping students from a variety of backgrounds to realise their full potential.
Our vision is to be a sustainable, socially responsible and pioneering University on a local, national and global scale. We provide grounded, holistic education with wide horizons and opportunities, so that people from every background can realise their true potential, contributing to a richer, happier society.
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Social Impact Statements
The Social Enterprise Gold Mark criteria includes a requirement that the applicant can demonstrate that social and/or environmental objectives are being achieved.
In support of this, new applicants and renewing Mark holders are asked to respond to a set of social impact questions, which are designed to help them think about the social impact they create, and to articulate this clearly and succinctly.
Updated September 2020
1) What are the main social differences you have aimed to make (or supported)?
The University of Westminster has a long and distinctive history, founding as the UK’s first polytechnic in 1838 when Sir George Cayley opened the Royal Polytechnic Institution in Regent Street. In 1881 a major philanthropic benefactor Quintin Hogg took over the site of the Royal Polytechnic and established the foundations of today’s institution which was granted University status in 1992 as the University of Westminster.
From its earliest days the University has been firmly rooted in a philosophy of widening access to knowledge and providing educational opportunities for the working population of London. As the Royal Polytechnic Institution, it aimed to be: “an institution where the Public, at little expense, may acquire practical knowledge of the various arts and branches of science connected with manufacturers, mining operations and rural economy”.
As the Regent Street Polytechnic Institution, its primary mission was: “the promotion of the industrial skill, general knowledge, health and well-being of young men and women belonging to the poorer classes.”
Our Being Westminster Strategy reflects who we are today and our vision for 2023:
- We are respected as leaders in teaching, research and engagement with industry, employers and the professions in the development of work-ready graduates in our chosen areas of strength.
- We are a UK university that plays a leading and unique role in helping students from different backgrounds, communities and groups from all around the world realise their full potential.
- We are a high-performing learning organisation and a community of educational endeavour where individuals, students and colleagues are able and encouraged to pursue what they love.
Supporting our Being Westminster Strategy our Social Responsibility Strategy places our history, revitalised, in a 21st century context, re-establishing our connection to and place within our local London wide, national and international communities, helping more individuals develop in ways they value more highly through our learning and teaching activities, making a stronger contribution to learning and wellbeing through our research, making a bigger difference to organisations and society.
We will have a whole institution holistic approach to social responsibility making a measurable change for good to the well-being, health, culture and progression of our students, colleagues, local and international communities and creating a truly inclusive university.
Our people and the way we work together are the foundations of our institution. We will support and inspire so that colleagues achieve their ambitions, our students realise their potential and our alumni are our loyal and engaged ambassadors. We will take the wellbeing of our colleagues seriously and provide a safe working environment. We will offer development pathways and flexible working for our colleagues as well as responsive, committed academic and pastoral support for our students. Our leadership will be positive and proactive, serving our whole community openly, honestly and with accountability
We use the Sustainable Development Goals as a blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all and as a framework to report on our impact.
2) What actions have you taken to deliver the aims described above?
The following is a snapshot of activity related to the Sustainable Development Goals:
1) No Poverty
In November 2019, the University took part in a Community Toy Appeal with the Baker Street Quarter Partnership, which supports underprivileged children in the Church Street Ward area. The toy appeal has been running for six years, with the gifts going to COSMIC Ward at St Mary’s Hospital.
2) Zero Hunger
At the University of Westminster, we have committed to giving our students access to healthy nutritious meals. The Food for Life campaign at the University is about making healthy, tasty and sustainable meals for all to enjoy. This includes championing the importance of well sourced ingredients and educating about how food is grown and cooked. The University Student Union (SU) Bars stock Toast Ale, a beer made from leftover bread from bakeries all over London. This helps reduce food waste in London as well as reduce the amount of land and resources required to grow other ingredients. All of Toast Ales profits go to charities. The supplier for sandwiches in the SU shops are one of Toast Ales partners which supplies them with their surplus bread.
3) Good Health and Well-being
Wellbeing of our staff and students is cited as an overriding priority in the University’s Being Westminster 2018-2023 strategy. We recognise that developing a comprehensive wellbeing programme across the University is critical to ensuring sustainable growth of the organisation and this has been a core focus for the University throughout 2019.
Wellbeing Day 2019 saw staff and students coming together to learn more about wellbeing as part of a healthy lifestyle by engaging with a series of activities promoting wellbeing and encouraging communication on mental health. Participants had the opportunity to take part in different workshops such as ‘Know your heart age’, ‘Eat well and be active’ and ‘Think well’, which were co-organised with the British Heart Foundation and with the assistance of four health practitioners. As part of the event, Vice-Chancellor Dr Peter Bonfield signed the Time to change Employer Pledge on behalf of all staff and students, aimed at eliminating any stigma, prejudice and discrimination against any employees who struggle with mental illness or other health issues. This action demonstrates a commitment to changing how we think and act about mental health in the workplace.
In 2019, the University launched 'Juice' - a platform bringing together Westminster's health and wellbeing offer together into one place which is easily accessible for all colleagues.
Also in 2019 the Library Wellbeing Collection was launched with the aim of creating a welcoming, inclusive and nurturing space where students and staff alike can browse and find insightful books and materials to support various aspects of their wellbeing; encompassing both physical and mental health issues. We have introduced plants into this bright and inviting space encouraging a therapeutic air of calm and greenery.
4) Quality Education
The University of Westminster's facilities promote and encourage inclusivity in learning. Our quality education provision includes programs to enhance literacy and education in local communities and schools through our volunteering programmes and outreach activities.
Psych4Schools has been running since 2017. Over 120 secondary students from four schools attend this event with their teachers and a Human Library taster session was offered to the students as part of parallel workshop activities. The aim was to engage students in thinking about their own and others’ lived experiences – in this case, around memories for food, music and clothing. In a short space of time, students created a self-titled ‘book’ reflecting their memories, ideas and thoughts. After a short briefing on the history and guidelines of the Human Library, students borrowed their human ‘book’ and had conversations around the book title.
5) Gender Equality
The University of Westminster has a number of initiatives in place to ensure gender equality and empowerment of female colleagues and students.
The Athena SWAN Charter is a national initiative that recognizes the advancement of gender equality, representation, progression and success for all in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine (STEMM). By being part of Athena SWAN, the University is committing to a charter which is committing to addressing any inequalities across the University. The university holds Bronze Accreditation.
6) Clean Water and Sanitation
The University of Westminster's Sustainability Strategy includes a number of objectives relating to the sustainable use of water. This includes not only water reduction, but also ensuring that all colleagues and students have access to drinking water through a network of drinking water fountains on all of our sites.
There are over 30 water monitors in place across the University of Westminster site. These monitors check water usage every half hour and provide the Sustainability team with an idea of how much water is being used and where water savings could be made.
7) Affordable and Clean Energy
The University's Carbon Management Plan outlines our commitment to carbon reduction. As a key part of this commitment, the University has been purchasing 100% renewable electricity since 2016 - significantly reducing our carbon footprint from energy use across our sites.
In 2019 Westminster installed six new electric vehicle (EV) charging points on our Harrow campus. These are available for colleagues, students and visitors to use. These were installed as part of our commitment to encouraging more sustainable methods of transportation for those travelling to our sites. We are monitoring the usage of these EV chargers to understand demand and see whether the use of EV's on our site increases.
8) Decent Work and Economic Growth
Our academics lead on teaching Sustainable Business to final year students across all Business Management undergraduate courses. Students research topics of their choice related to the SDGs and are encouraged to submit their work for competitions and student led conferences. Many students are inspired to pursue careers or further study in Sustainability. We are now working to embed the goals in
teaching across all years of our course. Refurbished areas of the campus included LED lighting, more efficient heating and incorporated environmentally friendly materials as part of their design.
9) Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure
The University of Westminster is committed to building sustainable and resilient infrastructure that minimises environmental impact. The focus in 2019 was ensuring that retrofits of existing buildings increase resource efficiency and consider environmentally sound technologies.
Westminster continued to maintain its Gold Ecocampus Award in 2019, for our Environmental Management System (EMS). This EMS allows us to monitor the environmental impact of our activities, including through monitoring of carbon emissions, waste, energy and water use. Monitoring our operational impacts across all of the University sites helps to information where there is potential for reducing our environmental impact.
10) Reducing Inequality
The University of Westminster celebrates equality and diversity, cherishes culture and embraces difference and individuality. We promote this by managing and reporting on the pay gap between lowest and highest paid colleagues, ensuring that all colleagues and students have the opportunity to be represented and have a voice in decision-making processes and committing to equal opportunities and reduced inequalities in all processes and activities.
The University’s Diversity & Inclusion Research Group focuses on research that explores what inclusion really means. It seeks to understand the issues that can enable or prevent particular groups from taking a full part in society as citizens in a global world, employees, students, and members of families and communities. The community encompasses, though is not limited to, researchers interested in law, policy, economics and social sciences. The Research Group studies issues including diversity, discrimination, social mobility, organisations and labour markets.
Our staff communities support the promotion of equality in the workplace. Our LGBTIQ network is an open environment, where sexual orientation is embedded as part of our cultural richness, promotes an ideal setting for each individual to fully thrive within our organisation. We recognise that staff perform better when they can be themselves. Our LGBTIQ Staff Network is dedicated to attracting, supporting and developing our Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender employees to ensure they are feeling confident to be themselves at work. The Network is in regular contact with other London universities' LGBTIQ networks to share information about news and events.
The Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) Staff Network was launched at Westminster in 2016 and represents the interests and aspirations of Black and Minority Ethnic Staff at the University. The Networks purpose is to provide support to BME Staff, work along with the University to ensure the race equality perspective is
proactively incorporated within the policies and procedures and to add diversity to the organisation. Staff networks collaborate to promote equal opportunity and reduce inequalities of outcomes.
Our Women of Westminster (WOW) network was established in 2019. WOW’s overarching aim is to improve inclusivity, transparency and equity across University activities; in intention and in delivery. The Network is envisaged as part of an intersectional effort by ‘minority groups’ which together embrace the unique diversity of the University and can harness their potential power to improve the working environment for all.
11) Sustainable Cities and Communities
As a London based campus, the University of Westminster has a crucial role to play in tackling climate change in this urban area. A commitment to a sustainable campus also means working with local communities and stakeholders and each year, hundreds of Westminster students volunteer to support charitable causes that matter to them - supported by the University through Volunteering Fairs and our Change for Good blog, which highlights volunteering opportunities. A sustainable city is one which is designed with consideration for social, economic, environmental and resilience planning – and the University is committed to considering all of these aspects in operation and through our innovating research and teaching in these areas.
As part of this commitment, the University is accredited as a Westminster Lion by the City of Westminster. The Westminster Lions accreditation recognises businesses that work hard to make a positive impact in their communities and commit to delivering opportunities for residents and improving their neighbourhoods and environment within the City.
In March 2019, the University of Westminster held our annual Sustainability Week – a week full of activities to raise awareness of issues facing our colleagues and students and encourage everyone to get involved with improving sustainability across the University. Over 100 people got involved in the activities, workshops and pop-ups that took place during the week, with our most popular events including: an edible plant workshop held in our growing spaces; Fair Trade Pancake Day; Eco-crafternoon (creating desk top planters for the office) and our ever-popular Bike breakfast for those who cycle in to the University.
12) Responsible Consumption and Production
At the University of Westminster, we recognise the impacts of procurement, resource use and waste production on our local and global environment. We are committed to ensuring that we make decisions and adopt policies that protect both the environment and the rights of people along our supply chains and ultimately look to reduce consumption and waste production. We have been committed to zero waste to landfill since 2017 and in 2019 we exceeded our 60% recycling target across all of our sites.
As part of our ongoing commitment to Responsible Procurement, Westminster undertook a full review to see how the social, ethical and environmental impact of procurement is considered through purchasing and supplier engagement. This has led to the creation of two new document to help us ensure that sustainability is considered in all procurement work that we do:
- A Sustainability Charter, in line with ILO principles, to make all suppliers aware of their responsibilities when contracting with the University
- A Responsible Procurement Commitment which highlights the Universities’ obligations and objectives for sustainable procurement.
These documents sit alongside Westminster’s Modern Slavery Statement which is revised annually.
The University Projects and Sustainability teams have been working together to reduce waste production from refurbishment works.
In 2019 the 'Reyooz' platform was trialled, which allows furniture that is no longer needed to be listed on an online platform - giving charities the chance to claim these items rather than them being thrown in the skip. This platform has enabled Westminster to reduce project waste by 35 tonnes, save 203 tonnes of carbon emissions and give over £230,000 worth of furniture to charities, local businesses and other good causes.
13) Climate Action
All of the University’s activities have a direct impact on the environment, and Westminster is committed to managing and reducing all of these impacts in a sustainable way, adopting best practice and putting sustainable-thinking at the forefront of our decision-making process. Westminster's Sustainability Strategy includes targets and objectives to help reduce the environmental impact of the University’s activities, saves money and resources, and helps create a better environment to study, live and work.
Westminster has signed the UK governments Emissions Reduction Pledge, a commitment to reducing our carbon emissions by 30% by 2020/21 against a 2009/2010 baseline.
We have greatly reduced our carbon footprint over the past 10 years but are still working hard to reach this target - from installing energy efficient LED lighting to encouraging cycling to campus.
14) Life Below Water
The University's catering contractor has achieved the MSC Certified Sustainable Seafood standard. This demonstrate the University's commitment to sourcing fish from sustainable fisheries which specifics their impact to wild fish populations and the ecosystems they are part of.
15) Life on Land
At the University Sports Ground in Chiswick, our staff have been raising bees for the last 5 years, monitoring regularly to ensure they're in good health and have enough food. During the summer months they can also produce up to 30 jars of honey. Bees are essential to a healthy environment and healthy economy. We rely on them and other insects to pollinate most of our fruit and vegetables, but bees are under threat and without them so is our food and economy.
16) Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions
The University of Westminster Legal Advice Clinic provides free legal advice to the public in four key areas: housing law, family law, employment law and immigration. All services are supervised by a practicing solicitor or barrister. This benefits students at the University and local community members who may otherwise not be able to afford legal advice.
17) Partnerships for the Goals
The University of Westminster has partnered with Harrows Boys School, Green Hills Academy and Rwanda Chamber of Young Entrepreneurs to develop a major programme in Rwanda. This programme involves MSc International Development students acting as 'developmental coaches' with A-level students at Harrow School and Green Hills Academy in Rwanda. Sixteen A-level students from Harrow School (UK) and sixteen IB-students from Green Hills Academy (Rwanda) will work collaboratively in small inter-school teams. The aim of the programme is for the students to research, develop and design social enterprise concepts that have the feasibility and suitability to be developed and implemented as sustainable enterprises in Rwanda.
3) What has changed, what specific outcomes and benefits have been realised as a result of the above actions?
The above section detailed some of the impacts on and benefits for individuals, internal and external communities. An area of work which clearly demonstrates impact on individuals and community is our Student Volunteering Service, focused around providing students with the key attributes of being community engaged and socially, ethically and environmentally aware.
Our annual volunteering survey reported in 2019:
- 119 new charities signed up to our on-line system, bringing the total to 323
- 1077 vacancies (75% regular volunteering and work experience opportunities)
- 23,000 volunteering hours completed.
- Number 1 Extra Curricular Activity
- Charity of the Year Award: http://www.hackneypirates.org/
The following is an example of the impact of volunteering on the individual.
JENNIFER SCARPANTONIO - MSC (180) Psychology:
"If I can't scuba then what's this all been about? What am I working toward?” - Creed Bratton
My volunteering journey started at the beginning of 2019 because I wanted to give my time to help in any way I can to those who I believed were creating inspiration and influence.
Initially, I started volunteering at Mind in Camden’s Healthy Minds to complete my work experience module. However, after the end of my classes, I realised that I was enjoying the work, hence I decided to stay with Healthy Minds as I wanted to continue helping others in their journey of mental distress through active learning. I work either 1-1 or in groups to help people to be more proactive in their community. I support adults who may be struggling with their mental health, feeling isolated or disconnected, or would like some additional support in finding out what their local area has to offer them.
At the same time, I also volunteered at Victoria’s Blue Cross Animal Clinic where I work alongside veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses to provide vital nursing care, ensuring that the wellbeing of small animal patients is paramount. No two days are the same, and that is what makes this work exciting. The rewards that come from helping an animal back to health and working as part of a dedicated team make the job extremely worthwhile. These roles have impacted my professional development in a positive way, I have learned to work with many different individuals from different walks of life who all go through hardships. Being able to give back to the community by giving someone an ear to talk to or a shoulder for support was one of the many communication skills I acquired. I have enjoyed my stay here and continue to take on extra training to offer more time.
I would want to encourage other students to give back and offer some of your skills. Give something that can make a difference. Wherever you volunteer, you will definitely be able to gain valuable resources as you move forward in your life. It’s this precious time we have that gives us these opportunities to grow.
In addition, our Career Development Centre facilitates:
- Explore Teaching (Previously University of Westminster Associates in School): 90-100 students volunteer each year as a Teaching Assistant in primary and secondary schools across London, including between 15-20 City of Westminster schools.
- Westminster Working Cultures: London: A new employability focused scheme designed to support students to develop their social capital, confidence and gain valuable experience and insights into the opportunities available to them, within a range of employers in London.
- Around 1500 students across the university take part in work experience or a year-long placement as part of their course each year, with both local and national employers.
- 80-100 international students on exchange at the University of Westminster undertake work experience with local London employers each year.
The University of Westminster is the sole university sponsor and lead co-founder of the Sir Simon Milton Westminster University Technical College (UTC). The Victoria-based College offers students aged 14-19 a curriculum of transport and construction engineering, challenging students to solve real life community and industry problems, working alongside professionals from industry, all delivered in a professional environment. The UTC has partnered with Network Rail, Landsec, BT Fleet, Sir Robert McAlpine, Alstom, Colas Rail and TFL, who - with the University of Westminster - are developing the curriculum for the next generation of professional engineers, technicians and innovators.
4) Please describe how your income and/or any profits generated from previous years has been maximised in delivering social outputs and adding social value.
92% of University income is invested in our people, estate, teaching, research and infrastructure. The remaining 8% ensures sustainability.
Overview of Expenditure:
- 56% - Salaries
- 21% - Refurbishment, Housing and Maintenance
- 8% - Teaching Delivery Costs
- 4% - Library and IT
- 11% - Other (including Student Scholarships and Allocations, Security and Health and Safety)
University of Westminster Facts and Figures:
- 1838 – The Polytechnic Institute Opens
- 19,279 students – undergraduate, post graduate and professional courses
- 6,605 students studying at an overseas partner university
- 2,946 staff
- 40 Cooperative international partnerships
- 39 separate professional associations accredit
- 169 nationalities
- 7,500+ recruiters and organisations
- 84% students study full time
- 41% students are first generation university
- 16% students are 21+
- 97% of our domestic students are state school educated
- 60% of our domestic students are BME
- 46% of our students commute
- 59% of our domestic students come from disadvantaged neighbourhoods
- 8% of our domestic students have a disability or specific learning difficulty
The below questions are not mandatory, but Mark holders are encouraged to answer them where possible, to provide a fuller account of their social outcomes and the social value they create.
5) How do you and other people know your aims are being achieved? Or how will you know?