Building opportunity and resilience to tackle an uncertain future for HE

Uncertainty and civic responsibility are mega trends UK and Irish universities and colleges need to better recognise – so say judges of the 2018 Green Gown Awards

A panel of over 100 national and international judges – a who’s who of leading names from the education, business and sustainability worlds – met to judge the 2018 Green Gown Award Finalists* at the PwC Headquarters in London on Friday 28 September.

They represented institutions including United Nations Environment, Unilever, Goldman Sachs, Advance HE, Marks and Spencer, and the National Union of Students – among many more.

The Green Gown Awards recognise and celebrate the inspiring, exceptional sustainability initiatives being undertaken by universities and colleges across the world. But they are also a critical mechanism to help the sector identify megatrends and prepare for challenges and opportunities ahead.

The panel were charged with identifying their most important top four mega trends from their perspective with focus on: students, business/industry, professional institutes and leadership.

Of the trends identified by the judges, there was consistent concern about ‘uncertainty’. The source of the ‘uncertainty’ was multi-faceted – budget cuts, mergers, in some cases dwindling student recruitment, ‘fake news’ or data, and uncertainty about the ever-looming Brexit were all given as examples. Sustainability can quickly be sidelined, jettisoned as a ‘nice to have’ or even unnecessary by institutions that need to account for every penny, but if they do they will fail to realise the long-term financial and social gains of sustainability.

What is the most important overall mega trend facing us? If you want to know more, then watch the short three-minute interviews with the panel at

*The Green Gown Awards UK & Ireland Finalists’ Brochure is out now. Take a look at the inspiring sustainability projects being undertaken by universities and colleges across the whole of the UK & Ireland. Winners will be announced on 8 November at the prestigious Awards Ceremony taking place at the National Railway Museum, York.

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