Policy on the use of animals in research
The University is committed to maintaining a thorough and objective process of ethical review that requires researchers to justify any animal involvement and maximise animal welfare.
At the University of St Andrews, only a small amount of our research involves animals, and we apply the same standards regardless of whether our researchers are working with animals in an aquarium, a laboratory, or involved with conservation work in the field.
Animal research is strictly regulated by the Home Office under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986. 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 scientific research involving animals to take personal responsibility for knowing the policy and their statutory responsibility under the Animal (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986. They must also receive appropriate and on-going training.
The Animal Welfare Ethics Review Body (AWERB) offers on-going support and guidance to researchers on best practice for animal involvement, welfare and refinement.
Principles of animal research
The University is fully committed to applying the principles of the NC3Rs initiative, which is used to improve the design and reporting of animal studies. The principles of the 3Rs should be applied - these are:
- Reduction - methods which minimise the number of animals involved.
- Refinement - methods which minimise any harm and discomfort and can improve welfare.
- Replacement - the use of methods to help avoid or replace animal involvement.
Research only occurs with animals when necessary and when there is no alternative. We are continually seeking alternative methods and techniques that will enable researchers to further their research without involving animals, for example by developing in-vitro techniques (e.g. tissue culture) and computer modelling.
However, the complexity of both humans and animals cannot always be fully replicated by alternative systems, and therefore the involvement of animals cannot completely be eliminated. Where alternatives cannot be found, only the smallest possible number of animals are involved, 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, the University has a designated veterinary surgeon that provides care and advice on the animals and their involvement.
The University of St Andrews fully supports and endorses the ARRIVE (Animal Research: Reporting of In Vivo Experiments) guidelines. These guidelines are intended to improve the design, analysis and standards of reporting research using animals by maximising the information published and minimising unnecessary studies.