The Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) has published a consultation on its next three-year strategy to drive sustainable development in the higher education sector.

The strategy aims to enrich and support HE's contribution to the wider sustainable development agenda. The consultation document identifies the HE sector as a potential beacon of progress but acknowledges that the momentum for change needs to increase. In this context, HEFCE aims to consolidate the facilitative approach it developed in its 2005 sustainable development strategy.

This approach is built around four distinctive roles:

-engaging with stakeholders to bring about policy synergies on sustainable development

-building the capacity to achieve sustainable development -sharing good practice, or supporting its development where none exists

-rewarding more sustainable behaviour.

Professor David Eastwood, Chief Executive of HEFCE, said “The consultation and updated action plan show we continue to make sustainable development a key priority. We are committed to working in partnership with Government and the sector to ensure higher education meets government targets to reduce carbon emissions and that the higher education sector remains at the vanguard of innovative policy, technologies and ambitions for a sustainable future…..…..we will soon launch a “Revolving Green Fund” to provide interest free loans to institutions for projects that help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. An initial £30 million will be available in partnership with Salix Finance, a publicly funded company set up to accelerate public sector investment in energy-saving technologies. The fund will finance a host of small projects and up to half a dozen larger ones, all geared at producing real savings in energy bills, well in excess of the initial cost." (ref HEFCE website/Guardian 10/6/08)

HEFCE is running a series of sustainable development seminars as part of the consultation process.
4 July - Royal Institute of British Architects (London)
8 July - Lion Court Conference Centre (London)
16 July - Manchester Metropolitan University, Geoffrey Manton Building (Manchester)

The seminar objectives are to share experiences of sustainable development and discuss the roles and opportunities open to universities; provide a forum for delegates to discuss HEFCE's forthcoming sustainable development action plan.

The HEFCE SD consultation document is at
http://www.hefce.ac.uk/pubs/hefce/2008/08_18/
Enquiries: Joanna Simpson 0117 931 7411 sustainabledevelopment@hefce.ac.uk