Fifteen-year commitment to fair trade renewed

The University of Edinburgh and Edinburgh University Students' Association have received two-star Fairtrade Award at a ceremony in Keele University, marking nearly 15 years of support for ethical and responsible purchasing.

Picture of the University's Fairtrade Award, a plaque with a wooden frame and the logos of the NUS and Fairtrade Foundation
Fairtrade University Award 2018

The new scheme encouraged 12 pilot universities and colleges to report in detail on their commitment to fair trade practices and responsible purchasing habits. For the first time students, trained by the NUS, ran on-site audits to check evidence and review our practices. 

The new award structure encourages partnership between sustainability, catering and academic staff in the institution plus the union and students to cover procurement, awareness raising and campaigning activities. There are also opportunities to engage through teaching and the flexibility to receive points for trying out new and innovative ways to engage.

The programme is delivered by the NUS in partnership with the Fairtrade Foundation and with support from the Environmental Association for Universities and Colleges.

Edinburgh became the first Scottish university to attain Fairtrade status in 2004 following a vote by students. It will now remain a Fairtrade University until at least 2020.

The University’s Procurement Strategy makes commitments to socially responsible and sustainable procurement. Our aim is to embed relevant social responsibility and sustainability requirements into the procurement process – from tenders to contract management.

This award showcases the University of Edinburgh's continued commitment to fair trade. Many students are telling us that the impact of our operations on human rights is an important issue to them. Staff across the University will continue to work hard to address human rights issues in our sphere of influence.

Liz CooperResearch and Policy Manager

Research conducted by our partners NUS tells us that 90% of students say they want to buy more products that don’t harm the people that produce them.

Joanna MilisEducation Campaigns Manager from the Fairtrade Foundation

Other than being Scotland’s first Fairtrade University, we became a founding member of Electronics Watch in 2014, encouraging electronics suppliers to disclose factory locations so that labour conditions can be monitored.

In 2016 we became the first higher education institution in the UK adopt a formal conflict minerals policy. This means investigating suppliers’ efforts to combat conflict minerals and requesting evidence of any actions and outcomes. An estimated 40.3 million people were in modern slavery globally in 2016, including 24.9 million in forced labour.

We are committed to protecting and respecting human rights and have a zero-tolerance approach to slavery and human trafficking in all its forms. We will act ethically and with integrity in all our relationships, and use all reasonable endeavours to enforce effective systems and controls to ensure these things are not taking place in our supply chains.

Read more about what we do on supply chains


What students can do

What you buy sends ripples down the supply chain, affecting people's lives around the world.

Advice for students

What staff can do

Fairness in trade and sustainable procurement means calling for responsible practices in relation to workers, environment and society to be followed by our suppliers.

Advice for staff