The call to prohibit fossil fuel firms from hiring on campus has received support from three additional UK colleges.
The University of Bedfordshire, the University of the Arts London, and Wrexham Glyndwr University all announced that their career services would discontinue all links with recruiters from the oil, gas, and mining industries in response to the beginning of a student-led campaign.
Being early adopters of Fossil Free Careers establishes a great precedent in the UK’s higher education sector, and all three of these universities should be commended for their leadership on climate issues. In a press release announcing the news on Tuesday, J Clarke, Co-Director of Climate Campaigns at People & Planet, remarked. Our institutions must demonstrate via deeds rather than words that they are on the side of climate justice rather than the sectors causing the climate disaster that is disproportionately impacting the least responsible.
Student climate activists have long campaigned for colleges to divest their endowments from fossil fuel companies and for institutions to refuse to accept fossil fuel money for climate change research. Their focus is the relationship between universities and the fossil fuel business.
The student organization People & Planet, which also spearheaded a decade-long divestment effort, is behind the UK Fossil Free Careers initiative. The National Union of Students (NUS) and the University and College Union (UCU), the biggest university staff and student groups in the UK, respectively, have also backed it. The campaign urges university career services to end their relationships with recruiters from fossil fuel firms due to the climate catastrophe, and human rights abuses, and in support of communities on the front lines of extractive industry impacts. It demands, in particular, that career services:
- Not form new partnerships with oil, gas, or mining companies.
- Not renew any existing relationships with these companies once contracts expire.
- Publish an Ethical Careers Policy banning these companies from recruitment opportunities.
The campaign’s first success came in September when the Birkbeck University of London announced that its career services would have no affiliations of any type with mining, oil, or gas firms, according to an article from The Guardian at the time.
Being the first university in Wales to restrict fossil fuel recruitment makes Wrexham Glyndwr University’s (WGU) dedication noteworthy. Its new Ethical Careers Policy for career services specifies that it will not engage with companies that manufacture weapons, use fossil fuels, mine minerals, produce tobacco, or are involved in animal cruelty.
The policy states that because the department of WGU frequently serves as a link between students, graduates, and outside organizations, we take our responsibility to promote social and environmental justice seriously and make an effort to be picky about the organizations we choose to collaborate with.
The University of the Arts in London’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Research, Knowledge Exchange, and Enterprise, Professor David Mba, stated that the school’s commitment to climate justice was upheld by the prohibition on fossil fuel recruitment.
According to The Guardian, The University of Bedfordshire announced that fossil fuel corporations will not be allowed to participate in job fairs or internships.
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American student activists are likewise putting pressure on their institutions to forbid fossil fuel companies from recruiting on campus. For instance, in October, students from Harvard and MIT interfered with an ExxonMobil geoscience recruiting event that was intended for students from both institutions.
Together, we’re standing up to let our institutions know that it is abhorrent to let businesses whose fundamental business models depend on destroying everyone’s futures, but especially those of young people, on their campuses. At the time, Ilana Cohen, the organizer of Fossil Fuel Divest Harvard and Fossil Free Research, wrote for EcoWatch.
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Encouragement of students to work in the fossil fuel industry also has a practical drawback in that such jobs won’t be safe if national climate policy does not change to reflect the urgency of the situation. According to Clarke, when Birkbeck declared its stance, “these are businesses that are likely to drastically decline or cease to exist totally within the working lifespan of students.”
The Fossil Free Careers campaign is advancing with a movement to get the University of Durham to join them after three more UK campuses agreed to its conditions. They eventually want fossil fuel recruitment to stop at every UK university.