We are committed to doing our bit to help the environment and to try to tackle the climate emergency, alongside developing and creating the needed international skills, competencies, knowledge, and life experiences for our students. Our ‘Green Mobility’ project – a pilot plan of action to help Erasmus & Study Abroad Office (ESAO) align our activities with the University of Reading’s institutional strategy (2020-26) – is our first step on this journey.
Our institutional strategy states that it is our: “… long-term ambition to be the greenest university in the UK, we will lead by example and commit to genuine carbon neutrality by 2030…”. This focus can be seen in our University Research Themes , and expertise.
We want Study Abroad – both ‘import’ and ‘export’ – to contribute to this long-term commitment. This initial 24-month project is a flexible plan, aimed at supporting more environmentally friendly student and staff mobility abroad, and international education opportunities at home. It will include:
- Making a financial contribution to offset or inset (to be decided) the CO₂ emissions for every outgoing and incoming student mobility managed by the Erasmus & Study Abroad Office (ESAO), taking place in 2021/2 and 2022/3. The project (or projects) to be supported must meet Gold Standard Verified Emission Reduction (VER) standards.
- Mandating that all Erasmus+ staff mobilities or trips funded by ESAO fully offset the return trip(s) at time of booking with the UoR Travel Management company.
- Raising student awareness about more environmentally friendly ways of travel and the importance of compensating for CO₂ emissions, as a routine part of Study Abroad promotion and preparation.
- Working with our partners to offer something reciprocal, so that our collective actions will help positive actions that might exceed the CO₂ emissions generated.
- Investigating the possibilities for creating climate change and sustainability pathways, sessions, activities and awards, which students studying abroad (incoming and outgoing) can participate in – here, or at our partners.
- Supporting greater engagement with virtual / online international learning opportunities, thereby hopefully increasing the number of students that can have a meaningful international and interactive education experience.
We will work with UoR Sustainability Office and other stakeholders at the University of Reading to review and develop the pilot into a more coherent strategy from January 2023 onwards.
We know that what we are proposing is imperfect, but it is a start. We will learn as we progress, and will utilise the expertise at the University of Reading and our valued partner institution network to improve and develop what we can do and offer.