Code of conduct for staff


The purpose of this code is to provide a clear framework within which employees of the University are expected to conduct themselves. The University strives to maintain a work environment for its staff and a learning environment for its students in which honesty, integrity and respect for fellow employees, students and the customers/clients of the University constantly reflected in personal behaviour and standards of conduct.


  • The University is a large complex organisation and its actions and behaviour of its employees have an impact on the education and livelihood of thousands of people, as well as on the local environment and the community. Employees are expected to have regard for the impact of their personal behaviour on the University, colleagues, customers, the environment and our community.
  • The University receives a substantial income from public sources, from private sector organisations, charitable and third-sector bodies, and from students and their parents/guardians. It is essential that all these stakeholders can have confidence that the University maintains the highest standards of conduct in financial matters and seeks to maintain high standards of probity and ethical behaviour. Stringent procedural and audit arrangements are in place and employees are expected to ensure that decision making is open and fair and in conformity with the Nolan principles.
  • This code covers some of the most important issues relating to personal conduct, and gives a framework of standards and behaviour guidelines, but it is not intended to be exhaustive.

Standards of personal behaviour

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

One of the University’s core values is the promotion of inclusivity and valuing diversity’. The University seeks to ensure that the work environment for its employees is supportive, and one where individual respect is shown to all. All members of staff and students, regardless of their age, (dis)ability, gender reassignment, marriage or civil partnership, pregnancy or maternity, race, ethnic background, culture, sexual orientation, religion or belief, sex, socio-economic status or any other factor will be supported and encouraged to perform to their potential.

Harassment and bullying

To secure an environment in which students and members of staff are able to flourish and to achieve their full potential, the University is committed to ensuring that everyone is able to work and to participate in the life of the University without fear of harassment, bullying or intimidation. Everyone in the University has a part to play by ensuring that their own behaviour, whether intentional or unintentional, does not constitute harassment. The University will take action against inappropriate behaviour which shows lack of respect for others or which leads people to feel threatened. See the Policy on Harassment and Bullying.

Health and safety

The University places a high priority on providing a safe working and learning environment and will act positively to minimise the incidence of all workplace risks as required by the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and other associated legislation. All activities should be carried out with the highest regard for the health and safety of employees, students, visitors and the public. Our aim is excellence in health and safety, by means of continuous improvement of standards, and the comprehensive use of risk assessments so as to systematically remove the causes of accidents/incidents and ill-health. This, together with more specific aims and objectives, reflects the University's commitment to promote employee wellbeing.

Relationships with other members of staff, students and other clients and customers of the University

The University does not concern itself with the private lives of its staff unless they affect its effective operation or its reputation.

Members of staff who are relatives or who have a close personal relationship should not normally have a supervisory, assessing or authorising relationship with each other.

Employees must inform their line manager if they have a close personal relationship with another employee, a student, or a client or customer of the University which could be considered by colleagues, students or others, as impacting on the way they conduct themselves at work. For more information, see the policy on relationships at work.


The University expects individuals to follow all reasonable rules and instructions given by those supervising or managing their activities and/or work areas.

Misuse of drugs and alcohol

It is a disciplinary offence to be on University premises and/or carrying out official duties when under the influence of alcohol or non-medically prescribed drugs. See the alcohol and drugs policy.


Gambling activities must not be conducted on University premises, discretion may be used in relation to small raffles for charitable purposes, national lottery syndicates, occasional sweepstakes etc.

Conduct outside work

The University does not seek to dictate how employees conduct themselves in their personal lives outside work. However, unlawful, anti-social or other conduct by employees which may jeopardise the University’s reputation or position will be dealt with through the disciplinary procedure.

Dress code

The University does not operate a formal dress code for its employees, other than for those who are provided with a uniform and/or protective clothing. However, employees must ensure that their dress is appropriate for the situation in which they are working and that they present a professional image and one that reflects sensitivity to customer perceptions. This may reflect their ethnicity and lifestyle, but should not be provocative or cause offence to those with whom they have contact.

Academic integrity

The University strives to maintain the highest standards in all the teaching and research that it undertakes, and staff must not conduct themselves in ways that may undermine the academic standards of its awards or the conduct and dissemination of its research. Please see policies and codes of practice for further details.

Financial probity

Consultancy work

The University values the undertaking of consultancy activity by staff. It recognises that consultancy forms an important part of its function as a University, in particular in encouraging a close relationship with the community, including industry, business and commerce. Consultancy can bring benefits to the University as well as to individual members of staff. Through its consultancy policies and practices, the University seeks to offer an efficient and valued service to the community, based on the excellence of its educational research provision and professional capacities. These policies are designed to support University consultancy activities to the benefit of all concerned. All staff proposing to undertake a consultancy must secure the approval from the relevant Dean of Faculty or Director, or their nominee. See the Consultancy policy.

Intellectual property

Where appropriate the rights to personal benefit from inventions, discoveries and patents are defined in the Intellectual Property Policy and Regulations. The University has put in place facilities and procedures to maximise the potential benefits from such intellectual property.


Subject to the following provisions, the University and employees acknowledge sections 11 and 215 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. All records, documents and other papers (including copies and summaries thereof) which pertain to the finance and administration of the University and which are made or acquired by employees in the course of their employment shall be the property of the University. The copyright in all such original records, documents and papers shall at all times belong to the University.

The copyright in any work or design compiled, edited or otherwise brought into existence by an employee as a ‘scholarly work’ produced in furtherance of his/her professional career shall belong to the employee, ‘scholarly work’ includes items such as books, contributions to books, articles and conference papers, and shall be construed in the light of the common understanding of the phrase in higher education.

The copyright in any material produced by employees for their personal use and reference, including as an aid to teaching, shall belong to the employee.

However, the copyright in course materials produced by employees in the course of their employment for the purposes of the curriculum of a course run by the University and produced, used or disseminated by the University shall belong to the University, as well as the outcomes from research specifically funded and supported by the University.

The above clauses shall apply except where agreement to the contrary is reached by an employee and the University. Where a case arises, or it is thought that a case may arise, where such agreement to the contrary may be necessary, or where it may be expedient to reach a specific agreement as to the application of the above clauses to the particular facts of the case, the matter should be taken up between the employee and the relevant Dean/Director. By way of example, this clause would apply where any question of assignment of copyright or of joint copyright may arise.

Financial regulations

The University's financial regulations create a framework of financial controls within which the staff of the University must operate. These regulations are designed to protect the University and individual members of staff. Failure to comply with these regulations may lead to the loss of assets, significant delays in payments to employees and suppliers, and additional work for colleagues. See financial regulations.

Employees must not accept gifts or hospitality that could give rise to a suspicion that they have a conflict of interest or have been influenced in a decision. See financial regulations.

Breaches of the regulations will normally be a serious disciplinary offence. See the Disciplinary policy.

Conflicts of interest

The highest standards of behaviour are also expected in all areas of University life, especially where individuals are in positions to make decisions which may have significant impact on others. In all such cases it is important that decisions are taken in a fair and balanced way that can withstand external scrutiny. Conflicts of interest should be identified so that individuals are not involved in decisions where their actions could be seen as biased. See the Conflict of interest policy for further information.

Access to confidential information

Although the University strives to conduct its business in an open fashion there will be times when individuals, through their positions as members of committees, selectors/recruiters, line managers etc, become aware of confidential information, either about other individuals or in connection with the University’s commercial/academic activities. Individuals should be aware of the need to keep such matters confidential and to respect the proper channels of communication for such information.

Prevention and detection of fraud

The University has a policy for the prevention and detection of fraud, corruption and other irregularities. All staff have a role to play in preventing fraud and the University policy

Bribery Act 2010

Under the Bribery Act 2010, a bribe is a 'financial or other advantage' offered, promised or given to induce a person to perform a relevant function or activity improperly, or to reward them for doing so. The Act makes it a criminal offence to:

  • offer, promise or give a bribe
  • request, agree to receive or accept a bribe
  • bribe a foreign public official to obtain or retain business or a business advantage
  • (by an organisation) fail to prevent bribery by those acting on its behalf ('associated persons') to obtain or retain business or a business advantage for the organisation.

Small payments made to government officials or others to make something happen, or happen sooner, (commonly called facilitation payments) are likely to be bribes and unlawful under the Act.

Under the Bribery Act, individuals can be prosecuted for accepting bribes or offering bribes. In addition, the University can be prosecuted for failing to prevent bribery committed to obtain or retain business or a business advantage for the University by an employee or other individual or organisation performing services for the University.

Use of equipment for non-work purposes

The University will allow employees reasonable use of University equipment and facilities, provided that authorisation has been obtained from the appropriate Dean or Director, that the use does not interfere or conflict with the work of the University, and that any costs are met by the individual.

Private telephone calls

Employees may use University telephone facilities to make occasional private calls for essential or emergency matters. Private international calls are not permitted without prior authorisation. Employees who have University provided mobile phones must reimburse the University for the use of these phones for private calls and texts etc.

Official international calls are only permitted from phones for which authorisation has been granted on a request from the Faculty or Directorate Finance manager. Any requests to the switchboard for international connections will be declined; employees should seek authorisation from their Finance Manager for the inclusion of an international dialling facility on any phone which does not currently have that facility.

Use of IT equipment, internet and social media

Users of the University's IT and the internet facilities must behave reasonably towards other users and the facilities and in public areas they must behave appropriately. Users who do not behave reasonably and appropriately may be subject to disciplinary action in accordance with relevant procedures. The regulations give examples of reasonable and appropriate behaviour but are not exhaustive. See Regulations for the use of IT facilities.

In particular, employees must not use University facilities to create, display, produce, store, circulate or transmit obscene or pornographic material in any form or medium, except where required for academic purposes, and having first obtained the prior agreement of the Head of Oxford Brookes Information Solutions and their Dean or Director.

Employees may use University internet facilities for occasional personal matters, but must not access social media for personal purposes in working hours.

Social media guidelines (interim)

Information security

The University recognises that information and the associated processes, systems and networks are valuable assets and that the management of personal data has important implications for individuals. Through its security policies, procedures and structures, the University will facilitate the secure and uninterrupted flow of information, both within the University and in external communications. The University believes that security is an integral part of the information sharing which is essential to academic and corporate endeavour and the Information Security policy is intended to support information security measures throughout the University.

Data protection

The University holds and processes information about employees, students, and other data subjects for academic, administrative and commercial purposes. When handling such information, the University, and all staff or others who process or use any personal information, must comply with the Data Protection Principles which are set out in the Data Protection Act 2018. Any doubts or queries about data protection issues should be referred for guidance to the Information Compliance Officer. See data protection policy


Raising matters of concern

Employees have a right and a duty to raise concerns which they may have about breaches of the law or propriety by the University. This should normally be through their Dean/Director but in circumstances where this is not appropriate they may approach the Chief People Officer in confidence. No individual who expresses their views in good faith and in line with this guidance will be penalised for doing so. See the whistle blowing policy.

Breaches of this code

This code of conduct has been drawn up to provide a source of guidance to the University's employees. It is not a contractual document and can be amended at any time by the University. All staff must comply with both the provisions of this code and the University's policies and procedures, breaches of which will be taken seriously and may result in disciplinary action up to and including dismissal.

Updated Jan 2018