Current Status Edit
The University, is currently implementing an Ethical Investment Strategy in consultation with Specialist Financial Managers and the EI Campaigners.
- March 2003: Campaign begins
- May 2003: Referendum in Students Union - 91% in favour of EI!
- October 2003: Campaign for transparency begins
- March 2004: Union shifts £1M into ethically screened account
- May 2004: Transparency achieved! University makes a written commitment to EI.
- October 2004: Campaign begins negotations with University
- September 2005: After much stalling by the University, campaign decides to hold a demonstration and begins a massive public awareness campaign
- November 2005: Demonstration for University EI. Over 200 attend. University makes verbal commitment to campaign demands. EI working group set up with Director of Finance.
- May 2006: A policy document with proposals for EI is presented to the Investment & Collections Committee, who accept it and show real keenness for EI.
- July 2006: The same policy document is approved by University Court.
- May 2007 : Updated 'Sustainable Investment' Policy approved by University Court
- August 2007: Fund Manager selection in consultation with student representatives, in accordance with the Sustainable Investment Criteria
- April 2013: University signs up to the Principles of Responsible Investment, being the first university in Europe and the second worldwide to do so.
The Campaign So Far Edit
The campaign launched with an attack on student consciousness – raising the level of awareness about the issue of Ethical Investment, and what it meant to the University. Campaigners from the One World Society, and the Students’ Association, worked together to organise a student Referendum in the Union. On the day of the Referendum, the turnout was huge – greater than there had been for a referendum in St Andrews before. Nearly 1200 students cast their vote, and the motion was carried with an astounding 91% majority! Students do care about ethics, after all. Following this, the Union adopted an ethical investment stance, committing themselves to investing ethically and actively supporting the campaign to convince the University to do the same.
Returning after the summer, the campaign gained a new coordinator, a new team, and a new direction for October of 2003. The focus – to get the University to be transparent in its investments – to tell us where the money was going. Dialogue with the University body, and specifically with the Quaestor and Factor, eventually led to the University agreeing to publish a list of companies in which its ‘endowments fund’ invests. That’s the money set aside for student grants and scholarships, made up largely of alumni donations, and also comprising surplus accommodation and tuition fees, the fund is invested on behalf of and for the benefit of the students at the University.
Meanwhile, the Students’ Union, along with the Ethical Investment campaigners, had been meeting with various banks, exploring the possibility of transferring its own savings into an ethical account. The Royal Bank of Scotland’s ‘ethical’ account was fixed upon, and the Union’s £1million was transferred.
Following much logistical organising, and continual dialogue with the University (and a new EI campaign coordinator), the University finally published a list of its investments online – transparency was achieved! You can look at the investments here. Along with transparency, came a written commitment to the development of an ethical investment policy for the University. Progress, it seemed, was being made.
A year of talks with the University ensued. After what the campaign saw as much stalling, it was decided to hold a demonstration in order to show student support for the camapaign and push for a speeding up of the process. The demonstration was seen by the campaign as a massive success, and the University thereafter began to demonstrate a new attitude towards EI, showing real commitment to co-operation.
In a working group with the Director of Finance, the campaign worked to produce a policy document which could be presented to the Investment and Collections Committee. This document made recommendations regarding EI, and laid out the route towards shifting University investments into an ethical portfolio. The document was accepted by the Committee, and then later by University Court, and the campaign, along with University officials, is working on following its recommendations.
Following this endorsement by the Investments Committee and University Court, the working group pursued with more research into financial and legal positions and corporate benchmarking. A period of extensive consultation also began. The Director of Finance wrote articles for staff and alumni magazines explaining the position, promoting the research being done into forumulating a policy, and asking for feedback. A period of re-engagement with the student body also began and on March 16th alongside student association elections, an opinion poll was conducted asking students their views on ethical investment. 87% of students voted in favour of ethical investment, with a majority also opting to, if necessary, accept a small financial risk in return for such a policy.
With a final policy supported by students, staff and alumni, and then endorsed by the Investments Committee and University Court in June, only the final step remains: chosing a sutible new fund manager and then moving the money. Fund manager interviews will now take place in September 2007; potential managers will be interviewed by a panel including the University Director of Finance, a member from the Investments Committee, the Students Association President, *and*, a representative from our campaign, a fantastic success!
Check out the St Andrews Sustainable Investment Policy