Sustainable Campus

Ethical Investment

Ethical Investment

Carbon Advisory Group

In October 2015, senior managers at the University responded to the student divestment campaign by forming a Carbon Advisory Group. The Group considered all the University's links to the carbon industry. This included a review of the University's Socially Responsible Investment Policy and progress with its implementation.

The University has committed to making improvements across a number of areas including the estate, curriculum and investments. Our commitment includes coverage of all environmental, social and governance considerations (not only fossil fuels) within the University’s endowment funds.

The Carbon Advisory Group reformed in 2019 to review progress to date on the recommendations from the report in 2016 and improve clarity on further action relating to investments. Students are represented at the Carbon Advisory Group and University Finance Committee by the President of the Students' Union.

Update Aug 2019:

The Carbon Advisory Group has met on 3 occasions to consider the next steps for procurement of fund manager services going forwards. To date the Group have agreed to the following:

  • Commissioning of investment services to conduct research into options available in the market in relation to funds with ethical screening, particularly associated with companies involved in fossil fuel extraction
  • Quarterly reporting of the sectoral breakdown of University endowment fund investments. The reports will be considered at University Finance Committee and therefore the timing will follow the schedule of Finance Committee meetings.

A further meeting of the Advisory Group has been scheduled in October 2019 where members will consider the interim results of the research into the investment market ahead of consideration by University Finance Committee, with aim of taking a decision on the exclusions and timescale that will be applied to the next tender exercise before the end of the calendar year.

Update Oct 2019:

Update Nov 2019:

  • Newcastle University Press Office article released can be read here which describes the current situation with investments.

This page will be updated as further information is published.

Divestment Q&A

1. What are University investments?

The University has two investment funds, University general funds and Endowment funds.
General funds are held in bank deposits rather than risk bearing investments as access is required for liquidity and to fund capital expenditure as required.
Endowment funds are donations, mainly from individuals, received either through a donor’s will or through donations during their lifetime. Use of endowment funds is governed by the Trustee Act alongside relevant case law. The University is required to invest endowment funds in order to gain a reasonable rate of return to finance the University activities that they were donated for.

2. Are student fees invested in fossil fuel companies?

No. The University does not invest student fees in equities; these are held in the University’s general funds.

3. How are endowment funds managed?

Endowment funds are invested in equities, bonds and an Alternative Investment Fund (AIF).
The University appoints fund managers to invest in equities on the University’s behalf. Appointment of fund managers and allocation of funds into bonds/AIFs is managed via regulated procurement processes. University Finance Committee, the membership of which includes student representation, oversees this.

4. What is the value of the University’s endowment funds?

The value of University endowments at July 2019 was £85.1 Million.

5. What proportion of the University’s endowment funds are in fossil fuel companies?

As of the beginning of November, the University has divested all equity funds from companies making revenue from fossil fuel extraction, and is committed to eliminating exposure to fossil fuel companies across all funds by 2021.
Currently less than 1% of total endowment funds are placed with companies making revenue from fossil fuel extraction.

6. Will the University have divested from fossil fuels by 2021?

The University has committed to divesting from fossil fuel companies across all funds by 2021.

7. Can I find out more about which companies endowments are invested in?

The University publishes a report annually which shows where funds are invested. The report can be found at this link: https://www.ncl.ac.uk/foi/publication-scheme/financial-information/#universityinvestments

8. Why is the information not more up to date?

There is a delay applied on the release of portfolio information due to commercial sensitivity.
The University has recently committed to releasing quarterly information on the breakdown of investments by sector which will be reported into University Finance Committee.

9. Who is responsible for reviewing the University’s investment strategy?

University Finance Committee are tasked with monitoring and reviewing the University’s investment strategy. You can find out more about the Committee’s role and membership, which includes student representation from the President of the Students’ Union, here.

10. What about environmental considerations beyond fossil fuels?

Integration of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) considerations across the strategy is governed by the Socially Responsible Investment Policy and Environmental Sustainability Policy.
The University is committed to aligning its sustainability objectives with its investment strategy and considering exposure to climate risk throughout. This will be reflected in upcoming tender processes to appoint equity fund managers.