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Going Digital: University of Gloucestershire cements position as UK’s most sustainable university

Is this the end of the printed university prospectus? asks @UniofGlos – End of printed prospectuses comes as #ClimateChange tops concerns of young people

The University of Gloucestershire, the UK’s number 1 sustainable university (People and Planet League, 2019), has announced it is ending the production of printed prospectuses in favour of digital-only versions.

This move away from a traditional printed prospectus, believed to be one of the first in the UK, is part of the university’s new Who Cares? We Do campaign which taps into what today’s students care about. 

University prospectuses traditionally showcase what each institution can offer students, from courses and departments to accommodation and student life. Research by the University of Gloucestershire suggests more than 2.5 million prospectuses are printed by UK universities each year – a figure based on at least one prospectus per student*.It is predicted that this number could be even higher

However, it is widely accepted that only a handful of pages are read and many end up in the bin as prospective students search for the specific information they want online instead.

The university has worked with current undergraduate students to develop an interactive digital prospectus and a suite of Instagram stories which replace the traditional prospectus used by universities across the UK.  As well as providing all the information students need about courses and academic requirements, the new digital kit tackles the issues that matter most to prospective university applicants and what represents value for them: from fitting in and getting the right support, to getting their career kick-started and also tackling one of the wider issues that today’s students care about: climate change.

The University of Gloucestershire will officially unveil its digital-only prospectus as part of the Who Cares? We Do campaign at the UCAS Higher Education Fair today (Monday 9 March) in Bristol. Instead of picking up a bulky printed prospectus, visitors to the University of Gloucestershire’s stand will be given a paper wristband filled with wildflower seeds and printed with a QR code allowing them to scan and access the digital prospectus at, as well as a nametag to its Instagram page to watch the stories. And to discourage the use of single use plastic, the university will also be giving away edible cordial pods made from seaweed which dissolve instantly to create a packaging-free drink.

Stephen Marston, Vice-Chancellor at the University of Gloucestershire, said:

“The University is proud to be ranked first for sustainability in the UK. Doing away with the traditional hard copy prospectus is a further step we can take in applying the principles of sustainability across everything we do. At the same time, we have taken the opportunity to rethink not just the communication medium but the content, to ensure we are giving students information about the things that matter to them.  Information about course content and academic management remains key. But so does information about some of the more personal aspects of being at university. Questions like ‘will I fit in?’, ‘what support is available?’ ‘is it worth it?’ and ‘where will my degree take me?’ are also real issues that students care about when making important decisions for their future.  At the University of Gloucestershire, we aim to be an academic community that values human relationships and the wider wellbeing of our students and community. Our Who Cares initiative reflects that goal.”

Gemma Mainwaring, University of Gloucestershire Student’s Union Welfare Officer, said:

“A digital university prospectus makes sense. As a community, we’re all so much more aware of reducing waste, so retiring the printed prospectus is definitely a move in the right direction.  Students want their concerns on issues like sustainability heard and I think the University is responding to these concerns well. As a whole, the University works closely with the community to ensure its students make a home for themselves here and fit into the environment around them. With edible gardens and hedgehog friendly campuses all around us, it seems no action is too big or too small. It’s important we continue to take a stand and lead the way in creating a greener and brighter future for everyone.”

Ceasing the production of printed prospectuses follows the university’s accolade as People and Planet’s Number One University for Sustainability in 2019, which saw it beat 154 other Higher Education institutions for its environmental and ethical performance. 

The university has consistently been ranked in the top 10 of the league since 2007. The University divested from fossil fuels in 2018 and has reduced its carbon emissions by 46% since 2005.

*Based on 2017-18 stats which show almost 2.5 million students started university.

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