All Cambridge colleges taken together invest an estimated £2.6bn. Part of this is invested into the main University fund, but most colleges also manage their own investments. PIC coordinates several college campaigns and aims to organise information sessions with experts in various positive investment strategies for college bursars who want to find out more.
In addition to the £2.2bn of the University, the constituent colleges hold a total of over £2.8bn in their separate endowment funds. Positive Investment Cambridge campaigns to align the investment strategy of these funds with social and environmental criteria. The Colleges are very likely to respond to student pressure so it’s a good place to start your involvement with PIC.
Find out whether there is or has been a campaign in your college
We keep a list of active college campaigns – drop us an email and we’ll connect you up with people involved in your college. King’s, Emma, Catz, Fitz and Downing are currently particularly active – but we have smaller groups in other colleges, and if your college doesn’t have a campaign yet, we will support you in setting one up. For some quick things that you can do as an individual, see our Take Action section.
Find out where your college is invested in
Separate to the university endowment, all colleges have their own investments which are collectively worth over £3bn. The ethical state of these investments varies greatly from college to college; some already screen their investments and are willing to respond to calls for further improvement, while others have so far entirely refused to take ethical considerations into account. To find out about your colleges’ ethical investment policy, take a look at the FOI responses we have received from your College, as well as on your college website.
Talk to your bursar
If we’ve not got much information for you, start sending FOI requests to your bursar/investment board. You may be shocked by what you find out! Most replies are very informative, and show all the direct and indirect investments of the colleges. The more information you have, the better: it is far easier to talk about the change you want to see if you can point out which irresponsible companies your College is investing in at the moment.
Once you’ve got some information about the content of your College’s endowment, you need to work out what your demands are. You can copy PIC’s university demands, take inspiration from our draft JCR/MCR motion, or write your own, depending on what information you have and what is important to members of your college. A good idea is to send out a short online survey, asking people about industries which particularly concern them, etc. This will both help you to plan a good set of demands, and provide weight behind your claim to be representing the College.
Then, it’s time to meet with your college bursar. This can be a little bit intimidating, especially if you’re not familiar with financial terminology, but don’t worry- it’s often less complicated than it sounds. Before talking to your bursar make sure you know exactly what your demands are and that you can explain them clearly. If you think you could do with a hand, a member of Positive Investment Cambridge can discuss what it might be best for you to say beforehand, and/or come with you to talk to your bursar.
Try and get JCR and MCR backing for your campaign. JCR and MCR Presidents are especially important to have on board: talk to them about your campaign so that they can represent you with college authorities. Sometimes MCR/JCR presidents are required to sign off on college accounts; if they are sympathetic to your campaign, they could refuse to do this until your requests are considered. You should also pass a motion in your JCR and MCR, calling for the college to implement your SRI demands which you can then present to your bursar and your college governing body.
The more student support you have the more your College will have to listen to you. Encourage people to sign the university petition, which includes college information that you can use to demonstrate how much support you have. A lot of colleges are very conscious of their students as being potential alumni donors; they will want students to be happy with how the college’s money is managed.
You should also try and get fellows and college staff on board. They will often have a lot of influence in the college, particularly people like the Dean and the Master who sit on the college governing committee.
Making progress with an ethical investment campaign can often be slow work, requiring lots of follow-up. One of the best ways of achieving results is being very persistent. If you keep chasing up your bursar, fellow students and college authorities, you will finally get through to them. Keep sending emails, making a noise about your campaign, and speaking to people in person. Get new students involved to keep the campaign alive and active. And if there’s anything that we can do to help, let us know, or come along to our meetings!