Ethical Principles and Business Conduct

Section B

7.  General Principles

No University activity must be undertaken that is in known breach of the laws and regulations of any country.  Staff knowingly or recklessly disregarding this prohibition may be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal. 

In cases of doubt, all staff must seek advice from the University Secretary before any financial commitment is made or where there is suspicion of money laundering or other criminal activity. 

All staff must ensure they commit University resources in a transparent and ethical way and must always seek to uphold and enhance the standing of the University.

Key Principles of University Procurement are (as defined by law)

a.  equal treatment,

b.  non-discrimination,

c.  transparency,

d.  proportionality,

e.  mutual recognition

Failure to observe the following will lead to disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal:

a.  Staff must not use their authority or office for financial gain for themselves, friends or relative

b.  No-one can evaluate bids or sign a University contract if they (or family) have a personal interest in the affairs of the other party.

8.  Nolan Principles All University business must be conducted in a manner consistent with the Committee on Standards in Public Life’s seven principles.  These are selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty and leadership.

9.  Scottish Code of Good Higher Education Governance

The Committee of Scottish Chairs, being the chairs of the governing bodies of Scotland's 19 higher education institutions, appointed a Steering Group to oversee the preparation of the Scottish Code of Good Higher Education Governance (the Code).  

All University financial affairs will be conducted according to the principles outlined in the Code.  A ‘comply or explain’ basis will be used in relation to these principles. The Principal must advise the Court if the University’s financial affairs or plans deviate from the expectations in the Guidance.

The Code states that the overarching purpose of HEIs is to promote the enduring success, integrity and probity of the Institution as a whole. Specifically:

a.  Supporting its mission as an autonomous institution;

b.  ensuring the proper and effective use of funds;

c.  promoting an appropriate participation of its key constituents, including students and staff;

d.  guarding against potential conflicts of interest;

e.  maintaining and observing clear statements of authority and responsibility;

f.  matching such authority and responsibility with accountability to key internal and external stakeholder

Guidance on Remuneration Committees was also issued.   

Financial Management

The Code also states:

Day-to-day financial control is exercised by officers of the Institution under delegation from the governing body. Responsibility for administering the finances and advising on financial matters is delegated to a professional employee, generally designated as director of finance. That individual must have access to the Principal whenever he/she deems it appropriate.

10.  Bribery and Corruption

All staff must comply with the University’s Anti-Bribery and Corruption Policy. Staff business conduct must comply with this policy regardless of where University business takes place. They must particularly ensure that they do not breach the UK Bribery Act 2010 by ensuring that they avoid the Act’s four offences:

a.  Bribing another person;

b.  Being bribed;

c.  Bribing a foreign public official; and

d.  Failure to prevent Bribery

All staff must ensure that external contractors or organisations working at the University Comply with the 2010 UK Bribery Act and other applicable anti-bribery legislation worldwide.

In cases of doubt about offers or inducements all staff must contact the University Secretary for advice.

11.  Money Laundering All staff must comply at all times with Money Laundering Regulations 2017, the Bribery Act 2010 and all other regulations on, or related to, money laundering and related offences.
12.  Modern Slavery

All staff must comply at all times with the Modern Slavery Act 2015 The University’s Modern Slavery Statement details the relevant policies and procedures which will ensure that staff will act ethically and with integrity in all relationships, and use all reasonable endeavours to take action directly and to influence others to ensure slavery and human trafficking is not taking place.

To demonstrate its commitment, the University has adopted the Advanced Procurement for Universities and Colleges (APUC) Supply Chain Sustainability Policy which promotes the 10 Principles of the UN Global Compact.

Human Rights

1: Businesses should support and respect the protection of internationally proclaimed human rights;

2: make sure that they are not complicit in human rights abuses.


3: Businesses should uphold the freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining;

4: the elimination of all forms of forced and compulsory labour;

5: the effective abolition of child labour;

6: the elimination of discrimination in respect of employment and occupation.


7: Businesses should support a precautionary approach to environmental challenges;

8: undertake initiatives to promote greater environmental responsibility; and

9: encourage the development and diffusion of environmentally friendly technologies.


10: Businesses should work against corruption in all its forms, including extortion and bribery.

13.  Fraud and irregularity

All staff, students or members of Court who suspect fraud or irregularity in the University must report their concerns to the Director of Finance.  The Director of Finance must immediately advise the Principal, the Convener of the Audit and Risk Committee, the University Secretary, the Director of Corporate Services, and the Chief Internal Auditor.

All fraud investigations must be authorised and conducted in accordance with the University’s Fraud Response Plan. The University’s disciplinary policy must be adhered to. No member of staff is permitted to undertake a fraud investigation without authorization. The Director of Finance will liaise with the Director of Human Resources before appointing an investigator. 

Fraud allegations relating to the Director of Finance, must be reported without delay to the University Secretary who will follow the Fraud Policy and Fraud Response Plan when such reports are made.

The Principal, Director of Legal Services and the University Secretary are authorised to contact the Police in cases of alleged fraud against the University. No other University officer is permitted to contact the Police in such circumstances.

The University Secretary will advise the SFC where:

a.  frauds exceed the threshold advised in their Financial Memorandum.

b.  frauds could damage the relationship between SFC and the University if the SFC is not alerted.

Reports relating to all fraud investigations undertaken must be presented to the Audit and Risk Committee. Updates on any ongoing investigations must also be given, subject to any legal restrictions. These reports will be given by the University Secretary or the Director of Finance.

Any firms convicted of irregularities must be excluded from future procurement in accordance with the legal obligations stated in the Procurement Regulations.

14.  Conflict of Interest

All staff must formally declare any potential conflicts of interest to their line manager when undertaking University business. All declarations must:

a.  be in writing;

b.  comply with the requirements stipulated in the University policy on conflicts of interest;

c.  record and handle any identified potential conflicts of interest (during procurement stages) in accordance with sector guidance.

"Interest" includes financial involvement of spouses, partners, children, parents or other immediate family.

15.  Register of Interests

The University Secretary will be responsible for maintaining a Register of Interests.

Members of Court, Court Committees and specified Officers of the University must submit written annual declarations of interest to the University Secretary.

Any changes to the Officers required to submit declarations will be advised by the University Secretary.

Any identified potential conflicts of interest during procurement stages must be handled and recorded in accordance with sector guidance.

16.  Gifts and Hospitality

University staff must avoid accepting offers of gifts of hospitality in the following circumstances where:

a.  accepting the offer could be perceived as seeking to influence the proper conduct of their duties,

b.  accepting the offer could be taken to influence future decisions in the University, eg the outcome of a procurement process,

c.  the acceptance of even modest gifts or hospitality could damage the reputation of the University,

d.  the gift of hospitality is significantly greater than the University would provide in return,

e.  Where lavish offers of gifts or hospitality could be taken to be bribery.

All staff will declare all gifts and hospitality offered during any procurement process, or received above the minimum thresholds set. These thresholds will be notified annually to the University by the Director of Finance.

Staff must decline gifts or hospitality in all cases of doubt.

Staff must not accept offers of gifts, hospitality or “free” goods for use from organisations currently tendering for University business and report offers made during the procurement process.  Staff must contact the Director of Procurement for clarification in cases of doubt.

All gifts and hospitality received and given must be recorded in a gifts and hospitality register.  The Head of School/ Directors of Service are responsible for ensuring up to date registers are maintained.

17.  Acceptance of Donations

Only authorised officers in the Development Office can formally acknowledge acceptance of a donation made to the University. Signed approvals for all financial and land and buildings donations must comply with the Delegated Authority Schedule.  No donations must ever be accepted where:

a.  restrictions are sought on any aspect of academic freedom,

b.  funders request explicit control over the use of University resources,

c.  funders request the alteration of any University policy,

d.  Equipment is free-on-loan or with promise to purchase.

Potentially contentious donations must be referred to the University Secretary for further action. This can include further submission to the Ethical Fundraising Advisory Group.  No decision must be made on acceptance without permission from these sources.

All donations must be fully disclosed and recorded in a University-approved database record.

18.  Whistleblowing Where staff suspect malpractice in the workplace, they must follow the University’s Code of Practice on Reporting Malpractice. Reports must initially be made to line managers except where this is considered inappropriate by the person concerned.
19.  Data protection

All staff are responsible for ensuring that sensitive data is handled in compliance with:

a.  The Data Protection Act 1998,

b.  University policy on storage and protection of information,

c.  Commercial confidentiality (eg if a bidder or supplier is an individual).

The Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA) sets out what you can and can't do with all personal data that the University holds. The Records Management Section supports the University’s compliance with information legislation and provides guidance on dealing with personal data. There are eight Data Protection principles included in the University’s data protection policy that define how data can be legally processed. All staff are responsible for ensuring that personal data is handled in compliance with the DPA.

20.  Policy on sensitive information and personal data

The policy sets out the University's policy on the storage, transmission and use of personal data and sensitive business information outside the University, including on mobile devices and portable storage media.

All medium and high risk sensitive data or sensitive business information must be encrypted if it leaves the University environment. Failure to comply with this policy could expose the University, its staff or students to risks including fraud, identity theft and distress, or damage the University's reputation and its relationship with its stakeholders, including research funders. The Information Commissioner can also levy a fine on the University, which may be up to 10% of the University's turnover, or up to £500,000.

Any financial data extracted from Finance Systems for transmission to third parties must be securely transmitted.  All staff transmitting financial data must ensure University policies and procedures for encryption/password protection are followed.  In case of doubt clarification on such matters must be sought from Information Services.

The Information Security website outlines the responsibilities for protecting information including The Computing Regulations, The Information Security Policy, the DPA and The Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002.