Oxford is now a Fairtrade University after securing accreditation under the new Fairtrade University and College Award Scheme.

The Fairtrade Foundation announced the result today. It marks a big step forward in ensuring the people who produce the University’s food and drink get a fair cut of the proceeds. The new scheme sets stretching actions which will take the University several years to achieve. Fairtrade certification is something students have asked for and the student body were closely involved in the work to achieve it. The evidence submitted was even audited by a trained Oxford student.

All the departmental cafes and other sites that operate under the University’s central catering contract with Compass took part, as did six colleges. Being part of the scheme will mean that Fairtrade food is sold and promoted in these areas.

‘I am proud that people across the University community have come together to secure Fairtrade status for Oxford,’ said Vice-Chancellor Louise Richardson. ‘This is a landmark achievement, and speaks to our collective and individual responsibility to help make the world a better, fairer place for all.’ It is particularly appropriate in Oxford, itself a Fairtrade City since 2004.

People from many teams around the University including Environmental Sustainability, Facilities Management and Purchasing helped gain accreditation, working alongside representatives of colleges and the Oxford Student Union. As the accreditation work continues there will be scope for more colleges and parts of the University getting involved and a move towards a wider range of Fairtrade goods being made available.

The University worked with 11 other higher education institutions to develop the new Fairtrade Colleges and Universities Award Scheme, with the aim of making it applicable to as much of the sector as possible.

The achievement coincides with strong interest in Fairtrade among students and staff. A recent survey to gather information to support the University’s application attracted more than 400 responses. 81% said they would like to see a greater variety of Fairtrade goods across the University and 90% agreed that it is important for Oxford to work towards the Fairtrade University Award.