Unicaf’s Responsible and Sustainable Business Plan 2021-2025 – Summary

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Unicaf’s Responsible and Sustainable Business Plan 2021-2025 – Summary

In the CEO’s recent statement of commitment (April 2021), Unicaf set out how it intends to have an increased positive impact on the quality and availability of higher education (HE) in Africa and how it will support economic development and environmentally sustainable practices across the continent. More specifically, these initiatives are driven from Unicaf’s head office in Cyprus and its universities in Africa and supported by its wider academic partnerships across the UK and US.

Unicaf published its Responsible and Sustainable Business Plan 2021-2025, setting out its targets for the next five years to support the statement of commitment. Taking its lead from six of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Africa 2063 aspirations, the Plan offers tangible and measurable targets that focus on outputs rather than inputs, seeking to have the most positive impact in the 12 countries it operates in. The full Plan will be available through the forthcoming updated Unicaf website.  Implementation of the plan will be led by the Chair of the Unicaf ESG Steering Group (an external executive) and governed by the main Board of Directors.

The headlines of Unicaf’s Responsible and Sustainable Business Plan 2021-2025 are the early steps Unicaf has taken to achieve net-zero carbon by 2035 – setting the example for all other global HE providers – and offer $200,000,000 worth of scholarships to students worldwide.

The future targets (to 2025) and summary of progress to date:

SDG-4/Africa2063-1.6:

Future – offer $200,000,000 worth of scholarships

Current – already awarded over $100,000,000 worth of scholarships to students in 158 countries

Future – establish 200 work placements

Current – area of improvement

Future – deliver 7,000 impact hours of free literacy, numeracy, IT and professional practice courses to young adults

Current – c.2,500 impact hours (hours delivered x delegates)

SDG-5/Africa20263-1,3,4,6:

Future – 100% of Unicaf policies, practices and governance targets non-discrimination against all women and girls

Current – 100% but newly developed locations will need to be afforded the same safeguards

Future – 50:50 ratio of women representation at senior levels (director and above)

Current – Overall number of male: female employees is 490:482

SDG-8/Africa2063-6:

Future – deliver 55,000 impact hours of free education and career advice to young people

Current – c.29,000 impact hours

Future – deliver 400 hours to support to actively promote/engage under-represented groups and those with disabilities

Current – area of improvement

SDG-10/Africa2063-1,3,4:

Future – provide $400,000 worth of support to generate community-led events to promote academic, social and economic inclusion

Current – c.$168,000 (FY2019)

Future – pay at least the national minimum wage at 100% of Unicaf locations

Current – 100% but newly locations will need to be afforded the same award

SDG-12/Africa2063-1,3,4,6:

Future – net-zero carbon by 2035

Current – under review by sustainability consultants

Note: SDG12 selected over SDG13 owing to the online nature of Unicaf’s delivery model; SDG13 is more suited to traditional campus-based institutions.

SDG-17/Africa2063-7:

Future – 100% of HE programmes include free online training on sustainable goals setting and delivery

Current – area of development

Future – work with 50 partners on research projects in key areas to support the promotion of sustainable practices (knowledge transfer)

Current – area of development

In summary, Unicaf noted the many examples across the sector where vice-chancellors had declared climate emergencies, but little or no action had been taken.  For some, their websites promised a great deal but offered no tangible evidence of delivery or impact.  Unicaf is promising to deliver against challenging targets to positively impact students, staff, partners, and the communities it serves worldwide.  These efforts are championed by the entire organisation and driven from the top, externally guided, monitored and verified.

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