Monthly Archives: May 2023

Actions Newcastle University takes to protect and enhance biodiversity

Biodiversity loss is advancing at a rapid rate, the Living Planet Report (2020) outlines five prominent threats to biodiversity:

  1. Changes in land and sea use
  2. Species overexploitation
  3. Invasive species and disease
  4. Pollution
  5. Climate change

Newcastle University undertakes multiple actions to protect and enhance biodiversity on campus as part of its commitment to environmental sustainability. If you would like to learn more about Newcastle University’s commitment to biodiversity you can read our Biodiversity Policy.

Here are some of the actions that Newcastle University takes to enhance and protect biodiversity on campus:

The use of bat barns and huts

Multiple types of bats are currently listed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as Threatened with Imminent extinction or Near Threatened on the Red List.

Newcastle University currently has 2 bat barns and 39 bat boxes on campus. These are implemented as bats don’t mind built-up areas, if they have safe spaces for roosting. As our campus is a built-up area and is in the middle of Newcastle city centre, we have installed roosting spaces for local pipistrelle bats.

An image of one of our bat boxes over by Park View Student Village accommodation.

Wildflower planting

The national bee population is declining, and not only do these animals have intrinsic value in nature, but we need them as pollinators for our food.

We have planted up several unused areas of our estate as ‘pollinator gardens’, to provide sources of nectar and pollen as well as suitable nesting habitats. These spaces contain plants and flowers chosen by our own experts as pollinator friendly. We have a range of flowers with differing petal shapes (attracting a range of insects) and a succession of flowering times so insects have a nectar resource throughout the year.

An example of Newcastle University’s wildflower planting

Hedgehogs on campus

Unfortunately, hedgehogs were recently listed as a species ‘vulnerable to extinction’ on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s Red List for British Mammals.

Newcastle University is attempting to make life on campus more hedgehog friendly

Hedgehog surveying

In the last week of April, we carried out a hedgehog survey on campus. The surveying was important for understanding more about the biodiversity on and around campus, including finding out if we have hedgehogs on campus. The process included:

  • Our friends over at Hedgehog Friendly Campus randomising our locations for surveying
  • A group of student volunteers went through survey training in March
  • This group of volunteers deployed the tunnels on campus across our randomised locations.
  • They also checked them every morning for footprints, along with a couple of members of the Sustainability Team

Sadly, we did not find any hedgehog footprints however we did find prints from squirrels, rodents and one cat.

To learn more about how to protect hedgehogs in your local area, have a read of our Hedgehog Friendly Campus post.

Green Careers: Why You Should Choose a Career in Sustainability

Over the past few years, there has been an increased awareness for the state of the planet and the need to take action to avoid further environmental crisis. Sustainability is becoming central to the way we live and, as a consequence, the number of jobs in the industry has rapidly grown. This blog post will address why working in sustainability is a good idea, why the industry is not just for environmental science graduates and how Newcastle University Careers Service can help you break into the industry. 

Why a career in Sustainability? 

Having a career in sustainability can be an incredibly rewarding. It offers the opportunity to make a positive impact and help create solutions towards a better future. If you’re passionate about making a difference and contributing towards a better world, working in sustainability can offer you a sense of purpose and fulfilment which you may not find in other professions.  

Sustainability work is also a growing area with a wide range of career opportunities. From the government to the private sector, there is plenty of work within the industry. These roles can be varied from policy development to marketing to analytics roles, there is something for every skill set. 

It is exciting to be able to make changes to an organisation that will decrease its negative impacts on the world, and increase its positive impacts. In addition to the work that you put in in your organisation for sustainability, other sustainability professionals that you talk to and collaborate with are a really supportive bunch of people – I love that us in the sector all help each other out with our work because we go through the same challenges and there’s no reason not to share solutions and best practice – we all want each other to be the most sustainable we can be. 


But I didn’t do an Environmental Science degree? 

No problem! While environmental science is an important part of the industry, it is not the only discipline relevant to the field. Sustainability is highly interdisciplinary and professionals from many different industries can work within the field. For example, someone with a marketing background could be a sustainability communications officer or someone with a law background could work within environmental law.  

Prospects provides a great list of some environmental career profiles but this is not an extensive list and there are more opportunities than listed here. Newcastle University also have a page for sustainability careers and development which has a useful list of professional associations, funding opportunities, upcoming events and job sites to find jobs in sustainability. 

Although I am still at the early stages of my Sustainability Career, I love feeling as if I am making a positive impact each day. I am able to use my unique background in humanities subjects (Combined Honours in Geography and Spanish) to help bring a new perspective to current environmental issues and help create interdisciplinary solution.  It is really satisfying to see the positive difference I can make, and I am excited to continue to develop my skills as I move up in the field!  

How Newcastle Careers Service can help 

Newcastle University Careers Service can be a great place to find support and guidance about entering the Sustainability sector. They offer a range of resources including career information and guidance, CV and LinkedIn checks and preparation for interviews. You can book an appointment with the career’s service on MyCareer and speak to one of the University’s advisors. 

All current Newcastle Students and recent graduates of up to 3 years can make appointments with the service. 

You can also visit the career’s service dedicated environment page for further advice on gaining work experience and finding jobs in the sector. 

A Look Inside the SESC: How Newcastle University Students are Making a Difference

The Student Environment & Sustainability Committee (SESC) is a student-led group which looks to improve sustainability at the University. The group aims to gather feedback and understand student priorities regarding sustainability. The SESC is chaired by the Ethics and Environment Rep and is attended by Environment & Sustainability (E&S) Reps from many academic schools. Any student can sign up to be an E&S rep, just ask about the position at your school at the start of each academic year! 

The History 

The SESC was created in 2020 following student Emilie Coutin’s year as Ethics and Environment Officer. During her time in this role, Emilie set up numerous activities, including regular Ethics and Environment Discussion Groups and a Student-Staff Summit, where students were able to put their ideas to members of Executive Board. When Emilie left the post, she put plans in place to create a Student Environment and Sustainability Committee, to feed into the [Staff] Environment and Sustainability Committee. This became the SESC we have today. 

Watch our video to learn more about Student Action at Newcastle University!

Who is in the SESC? 

Attendance at SESC meetings is notexclusive to E&S reps; any interested students are welcome to attend and contribute. Just get in contact with your school’s E&S Rep, or NUSU’s Ethics and Environment Rep to ask to join a meeting.   Meeting outcomes  are  taken to the University’s Environment and Sustainability Committee (ESC). The [Staff] ESC   is mostly made up of colleagues but is also attended by one or more Students’ Union Sabbatical Officers, the Ethics and Environment Rep & a postgraduate officer. 

We have representatives on the SESC from schools across campus including: Architecture, GPS (Geography, Politics and Sociology), Psychology, Combined Honours, SNES (Natural and Environmental Sciences), Computing, English, Planning and Business. 

Read on to find out what being a SESC rep is like from the reps themselves. 

Why did you choose to become an Environment and Sustainability Rep? 

Being an Environmental and Sustainability Rep provides me with lots of opportunities to get involved in increasing climate issue awareness, campus development and other activities. I also get the great experience of working alongside the people who are striving for the better future and care about making our University environmentally friendly. – Vladislava 

While in year 11/6th form, I decided to become a member of the eco committee when I became more aware of our impact on the environment. After stage 1 at university, I wanted to become more involved in the university in some way, so I volunteered to be on the Student Staff Committee for my degree as a stage rep. There was an open position for the E&S rep, and I thought this would line up well with my role from the past. – Sham 

What does your role involve? 

A lot of teamwork and doing your own research. I usually go through some ‘hot topics’ related to the climate change, sustainability, local development etc. and try to brainstorm some ideas of how to apply it at our University. During the meeting we discuss all possible solutions to current issues and Reps can present their thoughts.  – Vladislava 

Away from the SESC meetings, I have worked with staff in my school towards reducing our impact on the environment as a degree specifically. This is ongoing and I can gather feedback from others on my degree/ in my school on things to bring up at SSC meetings, where I can either take it to SESC meetings to discuss or meet with staff to seek improvements. In the SESC meetings I provide feedback on any ongoing campaigns and play a role in helping organise any future events. I also gather information which is to be brought back to the SSC meetings to be distributed to students around the school/ degree. -Sham 

What would you say to somebody who is thinking about taking up this role next year? 

Our future begins here and now, and you can change it! Be brave, curious and use your potential as much as you can!  – Vladislava 

There doesn’t have to be a lot of work involved to make a difference and if it is something that you are passionate about then it won’t be any work at all. It feels great to be able to make an instant difference to what is happening around you when making changes within your sphere or around the university/ planning events. – Sham