Over one hundred and seventy universities in the United Kingdom (UK) have signed up to the Fairtrade University Award. This Award entails universities instating a formal Fairtrade policy, using Fairtrade products, and running campaigns and events to promote Fairtrade. To date, no academic insights on how engagement with Fairtrade plays out in the context of universities has been published. This dissertation aims to address this by exploring the value of Fairtrade to university students in the UK and the relationship between Fairtrade and universities, through and apart from the Award. A mixed method approach was employed combining one hundred and fifty-two online questionnaire responses with data gathered during five telephone interviews. The study found that students value Fairtrade positively, with understandings akin to its key goals, but perceive of cost, inaccessibility of products, and lack of information as hindering their engagement.
Disengagement with Fairtrade’s political core appears to be prevalent. This is mimicked in the Fairtrade University Award structure whereby Fairtrade is framed in terms of sustainability objectives. A number of recommendations are made to enhance the impact of Fairtrade within universities. Since these are based on evidence from limited universities, further research in this area is recommended.
Completed March 2017.
Dissertation: DanielleFoster FairtradeFoundation March2017