University of Exeter case study

I’ve been looking at the websites of lots of Colleges in the UK to get an impression of approaches to organisational social responsibility  – more about that soon.

The University of Exeter is my alma mater! But aside from that, it is the only university I have found to date with an ethics policy. The policy is located in the research and knowledge transfer area of the website, but it covers all the university’s core activity, and this is distinctive (all universities have research ethics policies – Exeter has this general policy in addition to research ethics).

Through a Dual Assurance and Dual Engagement structure, the University regularly looks at and reports on  external affairs and corporate responsibility. Going by the January 2012 minutes an audit is underway.

The University has a Sustainability Department  with strategy, action plans across a range of issues, campaigns, opportunities to get involved. It has a strong awareness of the surrounding community (external stakeholders), and has a community liaison officer.

Some schools issue an annual ethical policy to all staff, for instance the Graduate School of Education, where the kinds of ethical issues that arise “usually concern the exercise of power in professional relationships, such as those between adult and child, or between teacher and student, as well as those arising from privileged access to confidential information about individuals or institutions”. Under Procurement, it is made clear that all members of the University’s Procurement Team are members of the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply (CIPS) and observe its professional Code of Ethics. There is also a sustainable procurement policy and strategy. The overall Ethics Policy sets out a clear structure for monitoring and reporting on ethical issues and CSR.

In the past, the University has taken part in the Business in the Community initiative: Universities that Count. But it appears not to be in the scheme any more. There are many other things the University is doing that demonstrate CSR.


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