University of Leicester to produce another crop of ‘green graduates’ with its Applied Learning in Sustainability (APPLES) programme

LEICESTER, 20-Feb-2017 — /EuropaWire/ — APPLES programme produces graduates who combine a passion for environmental sustainability with a desire to develop their entrepreneurial skills

The University of Leicester is on track to produce another crop of ‘green graduates’ ripe for the jobs market thanks to a programme set up by its Environment Team.

The APPLES programme, which is now in its second year, stands for Applied Learning in Sustainability and incorporates valuable life skills that students want and employers need. It has provided numerous employability benefits to Leicester students, as well as volunteering opportunities aimed at improving the sustainability of the university and the local community.

A recent survey of higher education institutions highlighted the how important sustainable development in university life is to students.

In February 2016 the NUS and Higher Education Academy issued their 6th annual sustainability survey and Leicester had the 2nd highest response rate in the country with 900 Leicester students voicing their opinions.

With over 80% of students saying that sustainable development should be actively incorporated and promoted by universities, the message is that sustainability literate and responsible graduates and employers are becoming increasingly desirable.

This week, the University is also hosting the student organised Go Green Week with a range of exciting student-led events to help students and staff go green together and achieve a more sustainable University.

Up to 3,000 students were engaged in APPLES in its first year. The programme has three core elements: ensuring students are involved in decision making issues around campus; volunteering opportunities aimed at improving the sustainability of the university; and a £5,000 ‘Seed’ fund which gives cash to students wanting to set up their own sustainable project on campus.

Sarah Roberts, of the University’s Environment Team, said:  “We’ve collaborated with different departments, the Students’ Union, community groups and local businesses in order to give students the best university experience we can. The aim is to create ‘Green Graduates’ and this means a wider understanding of complex sustainability issues that can be tackled using the skills we’ve helped them grow.”

Student engagement is one of the key aims of the APPLES programme and the Environment Team helped to set up the Student Sustainability Working Group (SSWG) which gives students the opportunity to be involved in making changes on campus.

Successes last year included improved signage in the SU to reduce waste and the installation of water fountains on campus to reduce use of plastic bottles.

A total of 56 students carried out 2,573 volunteer hours through the APPLES programme and students were involved in work with the wider community including local schools, and volunteers gave over 430 hours of their time to help projects being run by Leicester City Council,

The programme also encourages students to apply for Seed fund cash to set up their own business idea on campus. Students who are successful develop skills that can be used in their future careers including communication skills, project management, people management and budgeting.

Green graduate Caroline Jeffery, who was involved in the APPLES programme last year, said: “Getting involved with environmental volunteering during my time at the University of Leicester gave me far more than a part-time job or summer placement could ever have.

“Through completing the Sustainable Development Programme and then later leading my own SEED project to encourage the use of sustainable menstrual products, I learned to use my initiative, think outside the box and find solutions to multiple challenges.

“Getting involved also opened my eyes to the sustainability challenges we all face, but I know I have the confidence and skills to go and make a positive difference through my career.”

Fellow green graduate Zora Tamas applied for funding to set a project to promote bird diversity at Blackthorn Manor, she said: “The main thing I liked about the sustainable projects was that I met people from many different courses and saw that even though we study different things, we have a common goal.

“It also showed me that wherever I am, I can make a difference if I work together with like-minded students, teachers and staff.”

The hope is that after a successful first year, the APPLES programme will continue to grow and that the partnership approach between staff, students and the Students’ Union will continue to produce more green graduates – students with an understanding of the complex sustainability issues facing the world today and the inspiration and skills required to solve them regardless of the subject studied.

To find out more about the APPLES programme go to  http://www2.le.ac.uk/offices/estates/environment/news/green-gown-award-finalist-apples-launches-for-a-second-year

SOURCE: University of Leicester

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Notes to editors:

For more information contact Sarah Roberts on sr390@le.ac.uk

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