The National Union of Students will manage the Students’ Green Fund, created by the Higher Education Funding Council for England.
The fund is the largest amount of external funding the NUS has received to date, and has been distributed between 25 students’ union projects saving an estimated 4,000 tonnes of CO2.
The NUS invited students unions’ to provide submissions of interest, employing a bidding process to determine successful applicants. Dom Anderson, NUS vice-president for society and citizenship, led the panel that selected winning projects from 105 applications from unions.
The panel based its judgement on four criteria: impact, legacy, partnership and student participation.
One project, titled “Sheffield on a Plate”, combines students from higher education and further education institutions in the city to promote student-led cooking and healthy eating. The students will conduct cookery classes, along with a “local-ingredients based” student chef competition. They will also take part in creating a “social enterprise vegetable box scheme” and will award the profits to local food banks.
The University of Roehampton students’ union won funding for “Growhampton”. The project will focus on growing an “edible campus” complete with fruit trees, community gardens and bees, with the aim of bringing the local community into the university.
Mr Anderson said that every chosen project will “transform students’ unions into hubs of sustainability” that benefit their wider communities.
He added that each project will encourage students to adopt “positive environmental habits and behaviors” and assistwith “vital employability skills”.
The NUS will be providing “regular monitoring” and “evaluation” to guarantee the fund is being used precisely for the intended purposes outlined by each union, Mr Anderson said.
He argued that the fund will show “students are at the heart of sustainable change”, that they “can and should take an active role in greening their communities”.