University of Winchester wins Social Enterprise Gold Mark

16 Jun 2017

The University of Winchester has been awarded the Social Enterprise Gold Mark in recognition of its excellent work as a social enterprise creating benefits for people and the planet. 

As one of only a handful of universities in the UK to receive the accolade, the University joins a growing network of gold standard social enterprises committed to making a positive impact in society, through their trading operations, including Age UK Enterprises and the Big Issue.

Social enterprises differ from traditional businesses in that the majority of money made is used to fulfill a social purpose or is reinvested in the enterprise itself or its projects. The Social Enterprise Mark CIC is the only authority that provides certification to businesses that prove they operate as a social enterprise, putting people before shareholder profit.

Professor Joy Carter, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Winchester, accepted the award for excellence in best practice across areas such as governance, ethical business, financial transparency, and social and environmental impact.

Professor Carter said: "As a values-driven university, all we do is closely aligned to the Social Enterprise Gold Mark priorities. From divesting our fossil fuel linked investments, our pioneering work with care leavers and others who are underrepresented in higher education, through to our world-leading research in peace and reconciliation, we are a university driven by a passion to make a difference. We believe that big ideas and growing flourishing people and communities make the difference for a better world. So we are delighted to have the Social Enterprise Gold Mark to help us both communicate our unique focus and priorities, as well as to be continuously challenged."

In the assessment report, the University received particular praise for its Fairtrade catering operations; its active engagement with the Student Hub​ charity, which co-ordinates volunteering opportunities for students to help benefit the local community and for being a leading example in environmental conservation policies, not least by integrating environmental and climate change modules into every undergraduate programme offered at the University.

The report said:" As an organisation, your commitment to social purpose is a defining part of your vision and one that extends well beyond core educational objectives. This is very keenly stated within your corporate strategy and supporting plans, providing both transparency of intent but more importantly demonstrating a deeply considered ambition of fulfilling a wider social mission that places you at the heart of the Winchester community - and beyond."

Lucy Findlay, Managing Director of Social Enterprise Mark CIC, added: "We are delighted to welcome the University of Winchester to our expanding network of 'gold standard' social enterprises. We have seen an increasing interest from the higher education sector over the last 12 months, which is an encouraging development, as it symbolises a commitment to creating social change, for which such institutions have a huge potential scope to achieve."
 
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