Environmental issues
Ninety-four percent of QS survey respondents think universities could do more to be environmentally sustainable. Source: Shutterstock

The vast majority of prospective international students think that universities are not doing enough to be environmentally friendly, according to new research from QS, a leading global higher education company providing university rankings and student recruitment, retention and international relations solutions.

The unique survey of over 3,500 respondents from across the globe found that over 90 percent of prospective students think universities could do more to be environmentally sustainable. The respondents were asked a series of questions relating to how sustainable they perceive universities to be and how they expect universities to address climate change.

  • 94 percent of respondents think universities could do more to be environmentally sustainable.
  • Almost 90 percent of respondents think a university should take further action to reduce its environmental impact.
  • 78 percent of respondents said that universities are better than other sectors such as finance and construction when it comes to being environmentally friendly.
  • 79 percent of respondents would be more likely to choose a degree if the content taught them about reducing their environmental impact.
  • Nearly 60 percent of respondents think older generations have neglected the environment.

As part of the survey, QS also asked respondents what they most want to learn from studying at university. Over half of applicants said that using resources efficiently to limit the impact on the environment is a skill they most want to learn while studying.

Environmental issues

Protesters at the People’s Climate March highlight the need to take action on climate change in Washington DC on April 29, 2017, President Trump’s 100th day in office. Source: Shutterstock

When asked what universities should be doing to improve their sustainability, respondents said that increasing funding for research into sustainable initiatives is the most important activity for universities to engage in. Reducing single use plastics and reducing the amount of waste that goes to landfill were the second and third most important activity respectively.

The new research published on September 18 coincides with the Global Climate Strike that starts today (September 20), where thousands of young people from around the world are set to walk out of schools, colleges and universities. The Strike is set to take place over the course of a week from Friday and will demand more action from governments and businesses to tackle climate change.

Commenting on the findings of the survey Paul Raybould, Director of Marketing and Market Intelligence at QS, said:

“We are pleased to be publishing QS’ first ever Environmental Concerns Survey 2019, which highlights the growing concerns among prospective students about the impact of climate change. Our new research shows that universities must rise to the challenge of educating students on environmental issues by placing more emphasis on courses that focus on climate change, as well as doing more to decarbonise through measures such as increasing funding for research into sustainable initiatives.

“As a key partner to the UK Higher Education sector, we at QS will continue to play our part in providing insights and services to the sector. UK universities have a fundamental role to play in supporting the Government’s net-zero emissions target by 2050 and helping deliver a sustainable future.”

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