The Green College Commitment


With the COP26 summit due to begin and following the publication of the government’s Net Zero Strategy, AoC has published a new report, The Green College Commitment. It sets out the critical role of colleges in achieving net zero and biodiversity ambitions. Colleges in England will do everything possible on their own green journey. However, without more government support and investment, sustainability goals risk being missed.

New research in the report has found that less than 1% of students are currently on a course with broad coverage of climate education.  The report warns that reaching net zero emissions by 2050 is likely to fail without making education on climate change and sustainability part of all study courses

A letter has also been sent from college leaders to Boris Johnson, the COP26 President, the Business Secretary and the Education Secretary and argues that the ambition for a green economy is at risk without the next generation, as well as adults who need to retrain, having access to the education and skills they need to equip them for green jobs.   

The government’s own plans include a commitment on low-carbon heat pumps which will generate 240,000 jobs alone. This will need to include both young people and those within existing workforces. To keep up with the pace and the scale of upskilling and retraining to drive the green economy a net-zero strategy needs to include:  

  • Compulsory climate and environmental education modules in all study courses in post-16 education; 
  • Bringing forward the Lifelong Loan Entitlement to deliver the training needed in priority green sectors and developing a system of loans and means-tested grants to target support on adult learners who could otherwise not afford to live while undertaking education and training; 
  • Investment through the National Skills Fund to meet demand in growth sectors, like offshore wind, electricity networks, electric vehicles, low carbon heating and forestry, to support people in jobs that are transitioning to redeploy their skills; 
  • FE workforce investment to ensure teachers have the resources and knowledge to train those moving into new developing growth sectors; 
  • Investing £1.5bn in the next three years in the capital budget to sustainably transform college estates and support colleges to invest in the innovative technology required to train for green jobs. 

Chief Executive of Association of Colleges, David Hughes said: 

“The role of education and skills in tackling the challenges to society posed by climate change must not be underestimated. The government’s plans for the  transition to net-zero simply will not work without aligning education policy with climate and sustainability priorities – that includes embedding climate modules in all study courses. Colleges leaders and students have been crystal clear this is something they want and is necessary to meet the emerging skills needs of a greener economy."  

You can read our full press release which also includes quotes from:

  • Amy Brazier (Student member of the Climate Commission for UK Higher and Further Education),
  • Lord Knight of Weymouth (Labour former education minister and member of Peers for the Planet),
  • Baroness Hayman (Crossbencher and co-chair of Peers for the Planet),
  • Professor James Longhurst (Climate Commissioner and Chair of the EAUC Board of Trustees),
  • Alistair Jarvis (Universities UK Chief Executive).

Template social media

This is such an important topic and colleges have such an important role to play, so we are keen to make as much noise about it as possible. Below are some draft social media posts, which we’d really appreciate you sharing with your networks. You can also access a range of visual assets here.

  • Less than 1% of students are on a course with broad coverage of climate education. @AoC_Info is calling for compulsory climate education in all courses, otherwise government COP26 ambitions are likely to fail. Find out more: https://www.aoc.co.uk/the-green-college-commitment #LoveOurColleges #GreenColleges 

  • Colleges are uniquely placed to support a fair transition to a green economy, supporting people, employers and communities to take action and care for the planet. Find out more about @AoC_info’s new Green College Commitment: https://www.aoc.co.uk/the-green-college-commitment #GreenColleges #LoveOurColleges 

  • Providing access to the education and skills needed to retrain for green jobs is key to meeting the government’s ambitions for a green economy. Read @AoC_info’s new Green College Commitment: https://www.aoc.co.uk/the-green-college-commitment #GreenColleges #LoveOurColleges