'Operating sustainably means acting in line with our values. We are creating a business which will shape a positive future for generations to come.'
Richard Smith, CEO Unite Students
At Unite Students, we strive to be responsible across all areas of the business. The development of a new and ambitious sustainability strategy highlights our commitment to ensuring we address the most significant environmental, social and governance challenges we face.
We have developed five overarching sustainability commitments which will help us make a real difference. We refer to these commitments as Up to uS.
- Targeting net-zero carbon operations and construction from 2030
- Creating resilient, resource-efficient assets and operations to reduce the environmental impact of our new and existing buildings
- Enhancing the health and wellbeing of our employees and students
- Providing opportunities for all
- Leading the student housing sector working to raise standards across the student housing sector
Student climate change survey 2021
Unite Students understand the importance of sustainability to students, with our recent survey results highlighting that students are more concerned about climate change than any other issue in 2021 – including the challenges of Covid-19. Read more on the research here.
The key findings include:
- 70% think universities should now impose a total ban on single use plastics on campus
- 88% of students say that they now limit the number of flights they take, for environmental reasons, at least some of the time (59% say they do this always/often)
- 63% think it should be compulsory for their student accommodation provider or landlord to help them live in an environmentally-friendly way
- 61% want to see more university courses with a focus on tackling climate change
As the UK’s largest accommodation provider, we have a clear responsibility in facilitating students’ efforts to live in a sustainably and environmentally-friendly way - and this is what we are working towards with our sustainability commitments.
Positive Impact is an accreditation scheme, using a workbook of actions to drive improvements across sustainability. Although the NUS Green Impact model is well established in many universities, colleges and private organisations, Unite Students are the only accommodation provider supporting the scheme.
Positive Impact is our bespoke name for this which helps us achieve our sustainability objectives (Up to uS). The programme includes a range of environmental, wellbeing, community and social impact initiatives. It is designed to help employees and customers better understand sustainability and social responsibility, showing them what they can do to make a difference, and supporting them in achieving these actions.
Find out how to get involved through the Positive Impact programme here.
National charity partnerships and volunteering
We care about your wellbeing and the health of the community you live in during your stay with us. We have partnered with the British Heart Foundation since 2017 and, in this time, have trained nearly 600 students and staff in CPR across the UK, while raising over £1m through stock donations. Not only does this prevent items going to landfill but funds raised have contributed to life saving research.
To help us provide the best possible support to our customers, we partnered with Student Mind in 2020. We are aware that good mental health is more important than ever and this partnership helps our Student Services team draw knowledge from experts, ensuring we can provide the right support and signposting.
We also have many smaller partnerships and relationships with local charity and community groups throughout the UK, supported by our city teams.
You’ll find a dedicated foodbank donation station in each of our properties. We work with foodbanks around the UK to support local people in crisis while sustainably getting rid of unwanted food, toiletries and cleaning products.
Every Unite Students employee has one full day every year they can use for volunteering in their local communities. Taking people away from their day jobs, even just for a short while, not only helps them gain fresh eyes within their role with us, but encourages a community focus. This is also why we encourage students to support charities, community involvement and volunteering to ensure we're helping to make the world around us a better place for everyone.
Start saving lives: British Heart Foundation
The Unite Foundation
Unite Students is proud to be the principal supporter of the Unite Foundation.
The Unite Foundation is a charity offering a unique accommodation scholarship for care leavers and estranged young people at university. The scholarship takes care of students’ accommodation and bills covering up to 3 full years of study.
We have been supporting the charity since its inception in 2012 and have, so far, committed over £10M to its work. We are also the charity’s accommodation partner and our teams on the ground work closely with the Foundation team and its university partners to ensure all scholars feel safe, secure and at home.