The University of the Highlands and Islands is committed to pursuing ethical, sustainable and socially responsible activity and reserves the right not to accept donations/funding from organisations who are actively engaged in practices that conflict with our own core values.
This framework establishes a set of high-level principles which should be used to determine:
- Whether or not funds should be accepted for a proposed research or knowledge exchange project;
- Whether or not the university should proactively pursue the obtaining of funding through a competitive process for a proposed research or knowledge exchange process;
- Whether or not funds should be accepted from a philanthropic source or donor to the University;
- Whether or not the university should proactively pursue engagement with a potential philanthropic source or donor;
- Whether or not the university should engage with a new business partner, including in connection with employer engagement activity;
- Whether or not the university should engage with a new academic or business partner in connection with its teaching and learning provision;
- Whether or not the university should procure particular services or goods.
In terms of the university’s teaching and learning activity, the framework should also guide the work of the university’s external partnership steering committee.
In terms of research and knowledge exchange projects, the framework should be read in conjunction with the university’s due diligence policy which sets out guidance for whether or not a research project involving a country on the UK Government's Official Development Assistance list should be approved.
In terms of philanthropic giving, the framework should be read in conjunction with the university’s ethical fundraising policy which determines the framework for the activities of the development office.
In terms of procurement, the framework should be read in conjunction with the university’s procurement policy.
This framework applies to the legal entity that is the University of the Highlands and Islands and its subsidiaries, and to all academic partners of the university.
The University of the Highlands and Islands aspires to purposeful, values driven engagement with a wide range of external bodies and funders at local, regional, national and international levels. The university adopts a position of ‘do no harm’ in relation to any of its partnerships and activities.
Purposeful engagement includes activity relating to research and knowledge exchange, philanthropic giving, teaching, business development and employer engagement which is of benefit to fulfilling the university’s strategic plan and is cognisant of the principle of ‘do no harm’. In this sense as a major body in the Highlands and Islands, the university adopts a proactive and outward looking perspective which seeks to forge a wide range of external partnerships to support the delivery of its strategic plan.
In articulating the principle of ‘do no harm’, the university recognises, specifically, that there is a state of climate emergency and that all activities within scope for this values framework should be aligned with behaviours that recognise the climate emergency that is upon us.
The university affirms the principle that all activities undertaken in its name will do no harm.
The university will not undertake activity in partnership with an external body or accept funds from an external source if that engagement:
- May lead to the academic freedom, reputation or independence of the university being compromised;
- Has the potential to compromise the university’s selection criteria (which are based exclusively on the demonstration of academic achievement or equivalence) for student admission to a course of study;
- Compromises the ‘party political’ neutrality of the university;
- Involves receiving funds from sources directly related to the tobacco industry;
- Involves undertaking activity directly and exclusively related to the development, manufacture or sales of arms;
- Leads, or potentially leads, to any university activity involving the use of human embryos outwith the legal and licencing requirements of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008;
- Leads, or potentially leads, to research involving the genetic modification of organisms, being undertaken outwith the relevant national and/or international legal and ethical frameworks;
- Leads, or potentially leads, to research which includes animal testing involving vertebrates, including humans, being undertaken outwith the relevant licencing and species protection arrangements;
- Knowingly undertaking research which involves the development or use of new or emerging technology in the knowledge that it is likely to compromise the principle of ‘do no harm’.
Roles and responsibilities
The undernoted processes apply to all potential relationships with the university as defined in section one of this policy, regardless of the monetary value of these relationships.
Designated individual university employees, or academic partner employees responsible for progressing a new activity or accepting a philanthropic gift deemed to be in-scope of this policy in the name of the university, or academic partners, shall assess the proposed activity or philanthropic gift against the principles in section 3 of this policy. If having undertaken this assessment there is a question as to whether the proposed activity or philanthropic gift complies with the university’s values, then the employee must discuss this informally with their line manager.
If the employees’ line manager agrees that the proposed project or philanthropic gift may not comply with the university’s values then they should, in cases where the proposed activity or philanthropic gift involves activities or contractual arrangements which are the sole responsibility of an individual academic partner, discuss this with the relevant academic partner principal, who will, following liaison with relevant colleagues and stakeholders, make a decision about whether or not a project or activity should progress.
If the employees’ line manager agrees that the proposed project or philanthropic gift may not comply with the university’s values, then they should, in cases where the proposed activity or philanthropic gift involves activities or contractual arrangements which are the direct responsibility of the university:
- Discuss this with the vice-principal (research and impact) for all research and knowledge exchange projects. The vice-principal (research and impact) will consult with relevant senior officers of the university, including the principal and vice-chancellor as appropriate, in order to decide whether or not the potential research or knowledge exchange project under question should progress to further consideration through using the standard procedures; including ethics, due diligence and advanced notification. In addition, the vice-principal (research and impact) may, depending on the specific proposal, ask the research and knowledge exchange committee to articulate a view about a potential project. The decision and rationale will be communicated to all relevant internal parties.
- Discuss this with the head of the development office for all potential donations or philanthropic gifts. The head of development will progress consideration of a potential donation through the university’s development committee, using the university’s ethical fundraising policy;
- Discuss this with the key account director for business engagement initiatives. The key account director will liaise with the chief operating officer and secretary who will decide, in consultation with the university’s work and enterprise board as appropriate, whether the potential initiative under question should progress. The decision and rationale will be communicated to all relevant internal parties;
- Discuss this with the academic registrar for all proposals involving higher education taught activity. The academic registrar will bring a recommendation to the external partnership steering committee as to whether the proposal should progress;
- In cases where the academic partner has adopted this policy for potential activity being solely contracted between the individual academic partner and an external partner, consideration of the potential activity will progress according to the arrangements set out by that academic partner.