The University of Edinburgh

The University of Edinburgh has strategically allocated its endowment to create social impact.

University

Key stats

  • £1bn

    Total investments the University of Edinburgh has under management

  • £8m

    Amount currently allocated for social impact investment

  • 2021

    Year by which its endowment will be the largest in the UK free of fossil fuel investment

Why social impact investing?

The University of Edinburgh has been a pioneer among UK higher education institutions (HEIs) in the strategic allocation of its endowment to create social impact. It has around £1 billion under management, making it the third largest endowment of its kind in the UK and is leading the way amongst its peers in bringing its investments in line with its mission and values.

Approach

The University plans to allocate £8 million for social impact investment. In recent years, Edinburgh has made commitments to four social impact funds managed by; Big Issue Invest, Social and Sustainable Capital and Social Investment Scotland. All these investments are intended to make investments locally and contribute to social and economic prosperity of the city and surrounding area.

  • The University’s first step was a commitment of £1 million to Big Issues Invest’s Social Enterprise Investment Fund II, investing in social enterprises and charities tackling issues such as homelessness, financial inclusion and youth unemployment. At the time, it was the largest financial investment made by a UK university.

    Since, the University has gone on to make a £1 million commitment over a five-year period to Social Investment Scotland’s Social Growth Fund, which provides flexible loan and equity finance for social enterprises and charities and Scotland.

  • In May 2019, the University committed a further £1 million to Social and Sustainable Capital’s housing fund, providing loans to small and medium size charities that support vulnerable people.

    The University is also a key funder of the £1 million Big Issue Invest Power Up Scotland programme, supporting social enterprise start-ups across Scotland with loans and mentoring.

Commitment to social impact

The University’s social impact investments are targeting positive financial returns but are considered higher risk compared to traditional investments which have a longer track record. However, the University considers this a risk worth taking when it comes to its long-term mission and the prospect of creating a positive impact on society.

The University has also committed £60 million to businesses that directly benefit the environment. By 2021, it will be the largest university endowment in the UK to be free of fossil fuel investment.



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