The University of Edinburgh aims to make a significant, sustainable and socially responsible contribution to Scotland, the UK and the world promoting health, economic growth and cultural wellbeing.

A commitment to social responsibility has long been part of the

University’s ethos, appearing formally in our Strategic Plan since 2004.

We take a whole institution approach recognising this includes: existing sustainability and carbon initiatives; sustainable procurement, fair trade and supply chain issues; responsible investment issues; embedding social responsibility and sustainability issues in the learning, teaching and research of the University; access to education and widening participation issues; fair employer and equalities and diversity issues; and community and public engagement.

Professor Charlie JefferySenior Vice-Principal


Climate change, energy and utilities

A member of University staff inspects very large engine
The University was a founding signatory to the Universities and Colleges Climate Commitment for Scotland in 2008, and this commitment to harness the University’s expertise to reduce its carbon footprint has been incorporated into the University’s Climate Action Plan 2010-20.


During 2014/15 the University continued to replace combustion engine vehicles with electric and hybrid vehicles to reduce carbon and particulate emissions.

Resource efficiency

In 2014/15, the University demonstrated its progress in delivering the Recycling and Waste Management Policy, by reducing the weight of waste being sent to landfill by 47 per cent and significantly improving its recycling rate.

Estates development

Visualisation of McEwan hall redevelopment
The University is working to transform the estate with the aim to provide innovative, safe and sustainable spaces to support world-class learning and teaching, and research.


The University became the first in Scotland to be recognised by the Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA), gaining a two-star ‘excellent’ accreditation in 2015.

Equality and diversity

The University’s People Strategy 2012-16 sets out the vision to recruit and develop the world’s most promising students and most outstanding staff and be a truly global university benefiting society as a whole.

Widening participation

The University’s Strategic Plan 2012-16 places widening participation at the heart of the University’s agenda as a strategic theme, with the aim of delivering an outstanding experience to students from all backgrounds.

Community relations

Engagement with the city of Edinburgh and its communities continues to be a priority for the University.

Public engagement

A diverse programme of public engagement activities in 2014/15 demonstrated the University’s commitment to making a positive intellectual, educational, and cultural contribution to society.

SRS in learning and teaching

The University is committed to creating conditions where students and staff develop their knowledge, skills and experience to engage with and contribute effectively to tackling global challenges in Scotland and worldwide.

Our investments

A signpost in George Square
The University has a long standing commitment to responsible investment, formally recognised in our 2003 policy and reiterated in our 2013 commitment to the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI).

Sustainable procurement

The University’s Procurement Office continues to lead efforts to reduce and measure sustainability impacts and provide guidance to the higher education and wider public sector, where the University’s good practice has been recognised.