The University of Nottingham Ethical Framework
The University of Nottingham’s Ethical Framework comprises a comprehensive set of principles, structures, policies and procedures which together demonstrate the ethical standards that the University sets across all of its activities.
The Nolan Principles set out seven Principles of Public Life expected of all public office holders. The University expects all of its staff and students to follow the ethical behaviours set out in the Nolan Principles. Those are: selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty and leadership. These Principles underlie the University's Ethical Framework and are incorporated into each of the relevant policies of which it is formed.
A set of principles frame the University's Global Strategy 2020 and range from putting students at the heart of the University and focussing on quality and excellence and valuing and promoting equality and diversity to taking an international view and enriching our heritage. To deliver on these principles, the University is focussed on the way it works with students, enhancing research, partnerships and international endeavours. Implicit in all of these is a strong ethical underpinning.
This Framework has been developed by University Executive Board in part as a response to the findings of Lord Woolf’s investigation into the LSE’s links with Libya. The University of Nottingham’s Ethical Framework does not follow all of Lord Woolf’s recommendations; in particular the University does not intend to establish an over-arching ethics committee. Rather we see the University Executive Board continuing to play the central oversight role in relation to ethical issues and being responsible for the operation and review of this Ethical Framework.
Whilst the Ethical Framework covers all of the University’s operations, including at the University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus and the University of Nottingham Ningbo, China, some minor variations in procedures do exist where required by the different legal jurisdictions.
The following structures and procedures demonstrate how the University's ethical standards are to be met consistently across all its activities. It is not an exhaustive list but rather covers the most relevant policies and procedures:
- There is a comprehensive Code of Research Conduct and Research Ethics which covers, inter alia: responsibilities of researchers; use of personal and research data; confidentiality; publications and dissemination of research; Intellectual Property; supervision arrangements; safeguarding of vulnerable groups; conflicts of interest; ethics committees; covert research; consent; adverse event reporting; and links to other codes and procedures.
- Processes for ethical review are overseen by the University Research Integrity and Ethics Committee chaired by the Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and Knowledge Exchange and with Terms of Reference which include: defining the University's research integrity and research ethics policy; establishing the University's process and procedures for providing oversight of research integrity and ethical review; providing quality assurance of such procedures; ensuring and monitoring best practice of research integrity and research ethics across the University; advising the Research Committee on research integrity and research ethics components of the Code of Research Conduct and Research Ethics, and legal and statutory requirements; and championing the embedding of a culture of research integrity and good practice across all areas of the University. The Committee reports to Senate and Research Board. The Committee reports to Senate and Research Board.
- There are robust procedures for dealing with research misconduct: Staff Discipline Regulations; Academic Misconduct Policy; Fraud Policy; and the new Code of Practice on Handling Allegations of Research Misconduct.
- UNNC and UNM have their own Research Ethics Committees together with representation on and reporting lines to the University REC.
- Schools and Faculties operate their own ethics committees. Structures for ethical review operating in Faculties and Schools vary with ethics given different levels of focus depending on the discipline. Guidelines on ethical review were issued to Faculties and Schools in summer 2011. As noted in the recent Internal Audit Report (IAS339), there are opportunities for sharing good practice and developing the approach, recognising the risk while not imposing overly bureaucratic or inefficient processes.
- Guidance to Schools on Ethical Review of Research issued by the University REC which covers: composition of the School REC; frequency and format of REC meetings; the review process; and ethics submission requirements.
- An Export Control policy is in place alongside guidance for academic staff.
- Policy on the Use of Animals in Research which governs and regulates research on animals under the 1986 Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act.
- Policies which address the requirements of the Human Tissue Act.
Donations and gifts
A set of policies and procedures governs the receipt of donations and gifts and covers those which we are actively seeking as part of the Impact Campaign as well as those which are perhaps less clear cut:
The University's relationships with its stakeholders, including students, staff, alumni, friends and the local community, are a fundamental basis of its business. The University makes commitments to all of its stakeholders through a number of frameworks and procedures, including:
In turn, the University expects its stakeholders to uphold the values of the University at all times. This is encapsulated in the following policies:
Several policies relate to ethics in governance:
A number of the University’s policies which govern how it conducts business operations are relevant here:
- The Register of Interests
- The Fraud Policy
- Investment policy
- Arrangements for oversight of subsidiaries, associated companies and other spin out companies have been reviewed by the Chief Financial Officer (CFO). There are two boards which oversee such activities and to which University spin outs and subsidiaries report: Commercial Governance Board (chaired by the CFO) and Innovation Board (chaired by a PVC). Financial reports for all companies are scrutinised on a quarterly basis by these boards and relevant managers are invited to present to boards and respond to questions. Issues which need to be escalated are considered by Management Board.
- Purchasing and procurement policies.
Culture and leadership
The University of Nottingham is fundamentally an ethical business. In all that we do, in all parts of the University, our staff and students are expected to behave in an ethical fashion and in accordance with the procedures and processes set out in this Framework. The University expects that its leaders will behave in accordance with this framework too and that we will continue to cultivate an environment of openness, transparency and integrity which is in clear accord with the University’s Vision, Mission and Global Strategy 2020.
The University’s approach to developing, inducting and training its leaders will also embody the ethical approach set out here.
Individually and collectively these procedures, combined with the culture of the institution, give the assurance that the University of Nottingham behaves ethically across its activities.
Publication and Review
The Ethical Framework will be publicized within the University to staff and on the University of Nottingham website and drawn to the attention of new employees. Breaches of procedures which form part of the Ethical Framework may result in disciplinary action.
The component policies and procedures identified within the Framework are subject to review periodically by the bodies and individuals responsible for oversight of them. Further consideration is to be given as these are reviewed to the harmonization and cross-referencing of policies which come within the Ethical Framework.
It is also intended during the current session to examine the operation of the Ethical Framework at the Campuses in Asia.
University Executive Board will formally review the operation of the Ethical Framework annually, taking account of the ethical maturity model set out in the International Professional Practices Framework Practice Guide, and provide a report on the outcome of each review to Council.
Approved by Management Board: 1 October 2012
Amended and Approved by Council: 23 October 2012
Updated: October 2015
Last updated: February 2020