Funds are distributed to projects through an annual grant competition, which takes place in December, with project delivery in June before undergraduate students break for the summer. A Sustainability Fund panel - comprising University colleagues from the Sustainability Team, Centre for Education and Teaching Innovation, Estates Department, and academic areas - reviews all proposals and approves expenditure of up to 5,000 for those selected.

It is essential that projects are formed on the basis of a partnership between students and University colleagues. Project teams must include at least one member of a university colleague (academic, professional services, or students’ Union) and two to four students drawn from any taught or research programme. There must be more students than staff members in each group. Therefore, any project team must include at least two students and one colleague.

Students who contribute to project teams receive a bursary of £100, which recognises their efforts. The Sustainability Fund will also pay for equipment, consumables and/or other expenses identified in the project plan and approved by the panel to maximise the reach of the Fund. Westminster colleagues are solely responsible for the management of their project’s finances and must demonstrate an understanding of the University’s financial systems.

If successful, the project teams start their work in January, and the projects are launched with a compulsory workshopping session with all Sustainability Fund project teams and the fund’s panel. Project teams meet regularly amongst themselves during the project. Additionally, they will check in monthly with their dedicated Sustainability Fund mentor selected from the Fund’s panel. Panel members are also on hand to respond to ad hoc queries in between check-ins.

Mid-way through the project in April, teams present the project’s progress to the whole of the Sustainability Fund cohort and panel. Teams then do a last presentation and produce a poster for the final Sustainability Fund event in June upon project completion, where the Fund participants will be joined by fellow students, colleagues, and Westminster partners.

I will always be grateful to the Sustainability Fund panel that funded our first project on transforming food waste to a value-added product and establishing a circular food model. This small project served as a stepping stone to building our current project –the Cavendish Living Lab which has allowed students from all levels and disciplines to work together towards building sustainable solutions.

Dr Pooja Basnett, Academic Lead, Cavendish Living Lab &Senior Lecturer, Biological Sciences