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Policy on the use of animals in research

The University of St Andrews recognises the need for greater understanding of animal research and has therefore signed the Concordat of Openness on Animal Research in the UK. 

We are committed to:

  • Applying the principles of the 3Rs: Reduction, refinement and replacement
  • Providing the highest standards of care
  • Endorsing the ARRIVE guidelines developed as an NC3Rs initiative to improve the design and reporting of animal studies
  • Providing information on animal research (including when, how and why we use animals) 

Animals will only be used if their use is essential

At the University of St Andrews, a small amount of our medical, biological and psychological research involves the use of animals; in fact our research involves less than 0.1 % of licensed procedures on animals in Great Britain.  We are continually seeking alternative methods and techniques that will enable them to further their research without involving animals, for example by developing in vitro techniques (e.g. tissue culture) and computer modelling.  However, whilst non-animal methods help to reduce the numbers of animals used, the complexity of both humans and animals cannot always be fully replicated by alternative systems and therefore the use of animals cannot completely be eliminated.  

Where alternatives cannot be found, only the smallest possible animals’ numbers are used and our scientists and care staff work hard to ensure that these animals have the highest standards of care and that the principles of the 3Rs are applied.  In addition, we have a designated veterinary surgeon that provides care and advice on the animals and their use. 

We require researchers to justify their use of animals

We are committed maintaining a thorough and objective process of ethical review that require researchers to justify their use of animals, minimise the number of animals involved and maximise animal welfare.  The review committee also offers on-going support and guidance to researchers where necessary such as on best practice for animal use, welfare and refinement.

Animal research is strictly regulated by the Home Office under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 and the University is subject to inspections by the Home Office who examine all aspects of animal research, care and welfare.   All regulated work is carried out under licences, which are only issued if the potential benefits of the work are likely to outweigh the effects on the animals concerned. 

The University expects all those involved in the use of animals in scientific research to take personal responsibility for knowing the policy and their statutory responsibility under the Animal (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986.  We are committed to ensuring that those working with animals receive appropriate and on-going training.

For further information:



Contact details

Home Office Liaison Officer
Tel: 01334 462527