Whistleblowing (Public Interest Disclosure) Code

The University of Nottingham is committed to high standards of openness and accountability and conducts its affairs with due regard to probity.  The University is committed to tackling any malpractice or wrongdoing and this Code is one component of that approach. 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 this policy.

The UK Government introduced legislation in the form of the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998, (“PIDA”), which was amended in June 2013.  PIDA is designed to give protection to workers who disclose confidential information about malpractice in the workplace, whether carried out by other workers or the employer.  Such disclosures are commonly referred to as “whistleblowing”.  The Act sets out rules defining what counts as "malpractice" for these purposes and prescribing the person(s) or bodies to whom a protected disclosure can be made.

Whilst the terms of PIDA specifically cover those working in the UK, in order to promote a general culture of shared responsibility and openness, this Whistleblowing Code has been drafted to include the University’s wider community.  In addition to staff at the University of Nottingham in the UK, the Code therefore extends to colleagues, students and lay members in the UK and at the University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus and the University of Nottingham Ningbo, China. 

The following guidance sets out the procedure under which any suspected malpractice should be reported.

Whistleblowing Procedure

  1. Who can make a disclosure under this policy?
    1. Anyone working for the University, including employees, those working under a contract for services and agency workers;
    2. students; and
    3. lay members of the University

    You can raise your concerns orally or in writing and, to avoid doubt, you should state that you are making a disclosure under the Whistleblowing Code.

  2. To whom should a report of malpractice be made?
    1. The President of Council or the Registrar if the matter relates to the UK campuses; or
    2. The relevant Provost if the issue relates to the University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus or the University of Nottingham Ningbo, China. The Provosts will report disclosures to the Registrar, UK.
  3. What kind of concerns should be reported?
    1. In general, this Code covers actions or omissions you consider are illegal, contrary to policy or established procedure or outside the scope of an individual's authority, actions which could damage the University’s reputation and conflicts of interest. Examples include academic malpractice, financial and procedural irregularity, deliberate suppression or concealment of malpractice.
    2. The scope of PIDA is limited to specific acts or omissions. Disclosures under PIDA must relate to one or more matter(s) listed in paragraph 3.3. (i) to (vi) below.
    3. You should use this Code if you have a genuine concern that there are reasonable grounds for believing that one or more of the categories of wrongdoing listed below has occurred or may occur, and that it would be in the public interest to disclose it:
      1. a criminal offence has been committed, is being committed, or is likely to be committed; or
      2. a person has failed, is failing, or is likely to fail to comply with their legal obligations, (except for matters falling within 4.1. below); or
      3. a miscarriage of justice has occurred, is occurring, or is likely to occur; or
      4. the health and safety of any individual has been, is being, or is likely to be endangered; or
      5. the environment has been, is being or is likely to be damaged; or
      6. any of the above are being, or are likely to be, deliberately concealed.
  4. What concerns should not be reported under this procedure?
    1. Matters which relate to an individual’s employment contract with the University are not covered by PIDA. Such matters should be raised with the employee's immediate manager, Head of School or Department as appropriate and with reference, where necessary, to the University’s Dignity and Grievance policies and procedures (see or consult HR at UNNC or UNMC).
    2. In the case of students, concerns other than those falling under the categories set out above should be raised through the normal complaints procedures (see or the equivalent policy at UNNC or UNMC)
    3. Personal grievances which do not amount to a disclosure made in the public interest (see 3 above).
    4. Matters which relate to workplaces other than the University of Nottingham, for example in hospitals, businesses or other places where students or staff may be based or on placement/secondment. In such cases it is expected that the University School or Department will have ensured that students and staff are made aware of the relevant whistleblowing procedures in force at the other workplaces and, should it be necessary, will provide appropriate support to those seeking to follow other organisations' whistleblowing procedures.
  5. What about confidentiality?
    1. The President of Council and the Registrar* will treat disclosure as confidential.
    2. Individuals making a disclosure may do so anonymously. However, where insufficient information is provided, it may not be possible to conclude from an anonymous disclosure whether it is a public interest disclosure and/or the effectiveness of a subsequent investigation is likely to be impacted.
  6. What happens when a concern is raised?
    1. If there is a prima facie indication of malpractice or wrongdoing, the Registrar* will arrange for an investigation and a report to be made or, if appropriate, will refer that matter to the Internal Audit Service, for action under another policy (such as the Fraud Policy) or to an external agency as circumstances warrant. It will be recognised that the resultant report may lead to the matter being referred to the relevant disciplinary, harassment, complaint or grievance procedure.
    2. The investigating body will report its findings to the Registrar* and he/she may:
      1. take no further action save to inform the discloser of the decision and reasons for it; or
      2. refer the matter to the police in the case of alleged criminal activities; or
      3. refer the matter for appropriate action within existing University procedures.
      Note that the need for confidentiality may prevent the Registrar from providing specific details of the investigation or actions taken to the discloser. 
    3. An annual report shall be made to the Council of the University of disclosures made under this procedure.
  7. Further provisions
    1. Individuals who raise genuinely-held concerns under this procedure will not be dismissed or subjected to any detriment as a result of such action. Detriment includes unwarranted disciplinary action and victimisation. If you believe that you are being subjected to a detriment as a result of raising concerns under this Code, you should raise the matter under the staff grievance or student complaints procedure, as appropriate. Any staff member or student who victimises or retaliates against those who have raised concerns under this policy will be subject to disciplinary action.
    2. If an investigation under this procedure concludes that an individual has made false allegations which are malicious or made with a view to personal gain, the individual concerned may be subject to disciplinary action.

This Code does not form part of any contract of employment.

Published March 2015
Approved by University Executive Board 4 March 2015

Updated July 2015



*  or other officer to whom disclosure is made under the terms of paragraph 2.

Registrar's Office

Trent Building
University of Nottingham
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Nottingham, NG7 2RD

telephone: +44 115 951 5761
fax: +44 115 951 5739