Top login menu

Murray Edwards College
University of Cambridge

Ethical and Environmental Matters

Main page content


College Statement on Ethical and Environmental matters with examples of practice

Adopted by Council: 26 November 2018
Review Date: Michaelmas Term 2021
Committee ownership: Council

Matters of ethical and environmental policy touch many areas of the College’s activities. This statement highlights principal policies and gives some examples of practice.

Overall statement on ethical principles

The guiding principles of the College are the Nolan principles and business shall be conducted in accordance with them: selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty and leadership.

Personal integrity

As this is fundamental to the College’s ethical conduct, the remainder of the policy is re-stated here in its entirety.

Staff and Fellows must not use their authority or office for personal gain and must always seek to uphold and enhance the standing of the College.

Staff and Fellows must declare to their Head of Department any personal interest which may affect any College business and act in accordance with the instructions given as to management of any conflict.

Members of Council are required to complete an annual declaration of interests and eligibility to be a trustee.

Where staff or Fellows have a conflict of interest they must seek the written advice of the person to whom they are responsible, for example the Bursar or the President, and act as advised.

In relation to the receipt of gifts of hospitality the College’s Anti-Bribery Policy shall apply.


In relation to environment, social and governance matters, the Investment Policy states the College exercises its investment powers in accordance with the fiduciary duties pertinent to charity trustees, i.e. it exercises them primarily in the best interests of the College and to support financially its objects of education, learning, and research and maintenance of a College. The outcome of the policy is that the majority of the College’s assets are managed according the ethical policy of the COIF Charities Investment Fund. An extract of the policy applying at the date of this document is shown in the appendix.


In relation to fund-raising activity, the College adheres to the Institute of fundraising’s Code of Fund-raising Practice and in addition it is registered with the Fundraising Regulator, thereby subscribing to its terms and conditions including the Fundraising Promise, subject to amendment of certain of the standard requirements as agreed with the Fundraising Regulator in a side letter governing the particular circumstances of Cambridge Colleges.
In relation to donations and gifts the College applies its Ethical guidelines for the acceptance of gifts and donations.

Operational activities

The College’s Policy on Operational environmental issues addresses the manner in which the College approaches environmental concerns in its day-to-day operations in running its physical activities.
Examples of the application of these principles are available and the following important comments are reproduced here:

Living Wage: In setting pay for staff, the College has regard to The Living Wage Foundation’s recommendation of an hourly rate of pay.   The College reviews and adjusts pay, every year on 1st August ensuring that no staff are paid less than the Real Living Wage.  Additionally, any increases to the Real Living Wage occurring during the year are implemented within the recommended timeframe. 

Food waste: It is inevitable waste will occur in making sure there is enough food for unpredictable demand, and there tends to be more waste where more choice is provided. The College does what it can to minimise waste. This involves planning how excess food can be used in other meals if there is greater supply of some dishes than there is demand, but always with food safety in mind. Inevitably, there will be food which can’t be used in this way, along with the waste from people’s plates. We generally send this for bio-digestion which results in the production of fuel and fertilisers.

Energy: The College encourages students to engage in good energy habits. For example, the Student Switch-Off Campaign encourages turning off lights, heating and electric appliances including computers when they are not in use. The College participates in college-wide energy purchasing and in October 2017 this enabled many electricity supplies to be switched to a provider which purchases 99% of its electricity from “green” renewable resources, including wind, biomass similar sources of electricity.


Extract of the college’s investment policy

"6.1 The College exercises its investment powers in accordance with the fiduciary duties pertinent to charity trustees, i.e. it exercises them primarily in the best interests of the College and to support financially its objects of education, learning, and research and maintenance of a College.

6.2 However, in addition to the level of investment return, it addresses the following considerations:

6.2.1 It does not invest in activities that are illegal or contravene international conventions;

6.2.2 It does not invest in businesses that would create a patent or reasonably self-evident conflict with the College’s objects;

6.2.3 It takes into account environmental, social and governance considerations, where doing so is consistent with the financial interests of the College, for example it may choose to avoid investments that are seen as having the potential to deter supporters, benefactors or beneficiaries if on balance alienating these groups would cause greater financial harm than the decision to avoid the investments in question;

6.3 In addition, the College may incorporate a specific ethical policy into its investment strategy, providing it does not entail material financial detriment and it does so by considering favourably, in its choice of investment managers, those which have strong ethical policies and where the managers have also generated excellent financial returns over the long term.

6.4 The Investment Committee review regularly their investment managers’ policies on corporate governance as well as social, environmental and ethical investment."

Extract from the scheme particulars for the COIF Charities Investment Fund as at November 2017

“Client-driven ethical exclusions prohibit investment in companies:

  • producing landmines or cluster bombs
  • with significant (>33%) turnover relating to tobacco, online gambling or the production of pornography.

In addition, remaining companies that continue, after persistent engagement, to violate international and/or industry norms in relation to the following will be excluded:

  • public health in the UK (alcohol and food)
  • human rights, employment standards and climate change disclosure (relevant companies in developed markets).

This policy also applies to bonds issued by these companies. The Fund also takes a positive approach to stewardship as defined in the UK Stewardship Code for Institutional Investors. The Manager's response to this code and its voting and engagement records are available at The Manager is also a signatory to the United Nations backed Principles for Responsible investment.”

For more information see the scheme particulars.