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Receipt of Gifts, Hospitality and Other Benefits

Policy

  1. It is wholly unacceptable for staff to solicit for their personal benefit gifts, hospitality or other benefits from organisations or individuals outside the University in the course of performing their duties.
  2. The University accepts that there are circumstances where the unsolicited receipt of small gifts or of hospitality will be appropriate, or indeed where the refusal of such gifts or hospitality could cause offence that is detrimental to the University.
  3. Before accepting unsolicited gifts, hospitality or other benefits, staff should determine that acceptance:
    • does not place them in a position where their integrity or professionalism may be called into question
    • bears no direct or perceptible indirect link to any formal procurement process for goods or services
    • does not create a specific or general obligation which the member of staff or the University is required to fulfil
    • does not constitute an actual or perceived inducement in respect of a decision that the University must take.
  4. In circumstances where it is deemed appropriate to accept a gift of greater than small or nominal value, such as from a distinguished visitor, these gifts should normally be regarded as University property and used or retained accordingly.
  5. In any case that gives rise to doubt, before accepting the gift or hospitality or other benefit, staff should declare the matter to their Head of School or Unit and obtain their approval for acceptance. If the Head of School or Unit requires advice, the appropriate line manager in the Principal’s Office or the Convener of the University Ethics Assurance Group should be consulted.
  6. If a member of staff subsequently finds that (s)he is in the position of taking a decision on a matter where earlier receipt of a gift or hospitality or other benefit (in either a personal or professional capacity) might be interpreted as having compromised his/her integrity, the conflict of interest should be declared to the relevant Head of School or Unit.

Guidance

  1. Gifts of a nominal or small value can normally be accepted without question in circumstances such as: 
    • Where they are offered by visitors from other universities or educational institutions where no formal procurement of goods or services is being undertaken or is anticipated
    • Where they are between a supervisor and a postgraduate student who has completed his/her studies and where the monetary value is not significant
    • Where they are promotional items such as calendars, memory sticks, etc.
    • Where they are books from publishers to academic staff and the books are relevant to the academic interests of the member of staff.
  2. References to “other benefits” that fall within the terms of this policy include (but are not limited to) invitations to events, preferential rates for travel or events or goods for personal use, sponsorship, extension of hospitality or preferential terms to family members, free entertainment. Refusal of benefits would not normally be expected, however, where they are offered as a normal part of a professional activity, such as part of conference attendance, and where these are not construed to be attempts to gain influence with the University.
  3. It is recognised that there are areas such as fundraising and the building of relationships with potential donors where the regular receipt of hospitality or exchange of gifts in the course of one’s work may be in the University’s interests. This will be of particular relevance to staff in the Development Office. Appropriate and proportionate monitoring and recording procedures must be established for the Development Office and for any other Units that may be regularly involved in such activities to make transparent that the integrity and professionalism of staff are not compromised.
  4. Similarly, appropriate monitoring and recording procedures should be put in place for other staff engaged in work-related activities that make them particularly vulnerable to actual or perceived inducements (such as Procurement).
  5. As a general guideline, a gift with a value in excess of £50 would not normally be considered to be of small or nominal value.
  6. As a general guideline, receipt of hospitality at a level above that which the University might offer in return should normally be discussed in advance with the Head of School or Unit.
  7. As a general guideline, personal gifts of money (or monetary instruments) should never be accepted regardless of amount. Gifts of money (or monetary instruments) to the University should be received only if they are clearly charitable donations, co-ordinated through the Development Office or directly with the Principal.
  8. Staff are wholly responsible for any tax implications that may be associated with the receipt of personal gifts or other benefits, including any responsibility for reporting them to HMRC.

Vice-Principal for Governance and Planning
December 2010