Applied Learning in Sustainability (APPLES)

We aim to create ‘Green Graduates’ – global citizens with an understanding of the complex sustainability issues facing the world today and the inspiration and skills required to solve them regardless of subject studied and the knowledge to implement these principles in any career

APPLES has been shortlisted for a Green Gown Award in the Enterprise & Employability category. It's great to be recognised as a sector leading initiative. Winners will be decided in November so watch this space and wish us luck!

Leicester goes beyond the usual formula of just backing student ideas for quick success stories; we are concerned with a bigger picture of encouraging students to promote positive change. So we developed a triangular framework to up skill our students using a partnership approach between academic and Estates staff, students and the Students’ Union.


Our student development framework has exchanged students’ soap boxes for tangible tools, skills and power to turn their ideas into realistic business cases and project proposals. We offer a diverse range of opportunities from basic volunteering to political positions and value new ways of thinking by inviting people from all disciplines to be involved. All our initiatives are HEAR accredited and contribute positively to student experience as well as providing them with skills that transfer into work-ready employable, sustainably-aware graduates.

Core Components

Politics: SSWG is a student group chaired by the Student Engagement Sabbatical Officer that reports to the Sustainability Steering Group and Union Council and allows students to work side by side with (or even in front of) University staff to affect change within the organisation and introduces them to the political side of change management.

Education: SDP allows students learn about sustainability issues and how to recognise and solve sustainability challenges at workshops and volunteering events, including guest speakers on biodiversity, waste, energy and more.

Projects: SEED Fund where students present their innovative ideas to the SSWG (who administer the fund) at two windows during the year. Students can apply for funding for an extracurricular project or for their dissertation. They are provided with project and budget management training as well as communication skills and other support to deliver their enterprising projects.

Previous harvests

We always believed that our students have the potential and drive to lead on a diverse range of projects and campaigns but we didn’t necessarily expect the fantastic results or levels of engagement that we received!

Examples of change achieved in 2015/16:

Food Waste Initiative

At the beginning of the academic year, a change in policy at the Students Union meant that employees could no longer take home leftover food at the end of the day from the food outlets instead it went straight to landfill. Our students began negotiations with the Commercial Manager of the SU, the SU President and The Real Junk Food Project, a grassroots organisation that collects leftover produce from supermarkets and produces meals in their kitchen and for events. With aims to work with TRJFP and RACS especially at halls to curb other food waste problems at halls of residence, the extent of food wastage at the University should reduce in the next academic year.

Recycling on Campus

Contamination at the SU had got so bad that recycling was being voided to the landfill so the students worked with the Design Team in the SU to create vibrant vinyl stickers that demonstrated what could go in each bin (Paper, Plastic, Metal, and Landfill) to make the practice of recycling visual and simple. These featured as part of Go Green Week in February, alongside some posters that are on the backs of toilets and are being circulated for greater effect. Whilst contamination may still be a recurring problem, these small changes have seen less and less problems concerning waste. It has opened doors to new ideas concerning food waste, composting, liquid waste, and the unrecyclable paper cups!

Drinking Water Campaign

Students prepared a business case for Estates concerning the lack of water outlets that means more students are buying unnecessarily large amounts of cheap plastic bottles. As a result, six new fountains are being installed across the campus, and a map of where they can be found is being put up in Charles Wilson.

Future development

  • We are working with academic colleagues to develop an Enterprise degree.
  • The SSWG are working with all societies to ensure that their procurement of equipment and kit is ethically sourced.
  • The Environmental Action Society and the Activities Officer in the SU have been working on the national divestment campaign at the University. They have been in conversation with Finance and the Provost.

GG Finalist 2016

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