The University is committed to incorporate environmental, social and governance factors into its investment decisions.
The University became the first university in Europe to sign the UN Principles of Responsible Investment in 2013, an internationally-recognised initiative seeking to build a more sustainable financial system. In the UNPRI's latest assessment of the University, the institution scored highly.
In 2018, the University announced that it will complete its transition out of fossil fuel investments within three years. It will become the largest university endowment in the UK to be free of fossil fuel investment. The decision, approved by the University Court, follows its commitment to become a net zero carbon neutral university by 2040.
Principles for Responsible Investment
Every year the University submits a report to the UN PRI which is then assessed. The University scored highly for Strategy & Governance (A+), and for general integration of ESG in Listed Equity (A), Fixed Income (A), and Property (B). This reflects the University's holistic approach to responsible investment, and recent commitments to avoid investments in fossil fuels, controversial weapons, and tobacco. All University fund managers are signatories to UNPRI.
Since we joined the Principles for Responsible Investment, we have updated our policies on fossil fuels, modern slavery, and sustainable supply chains. This is another major change to our investment fund – to selectively invest in funds making a more positive contribution to environmental sustainability.
Supporting Social Enterprise
The University invested £1.5 million in Big Issue Invest, a social investment organisation which is a branch of The Big Issue, one of the best known social enterprises in the United Kingdom. Big Issue Invest offers both loans an investment to social enterprises, charities and profit-with-purpose businesses.
This investment is the largest financial investment made by a University in the UK.
One million pounds of the investment is for Big Issue’s Social Enterprise Investment Fund (SEIF II) which aids the finding of solutions to the most difficult social problems, such as social and financial exclusion, homelessness and youth unemployment.
£500,000 of the total investment is with Power Up Scotland, which is coordinated by Big Issue Invest. Power Up Scotland enables local community groups to expand and improve their services through funding new equipment or hiring new staff, in combination with support building business development plans and receiving mentoring from industry experts. The University is one of four partners – including The Scottish Government, Aberdeen Standard Investments and law firm Brodies LLP and made the largest financial investment.