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Ethics Committee

EC14-M1


Minutes of the Ethics Committee held on 7 February 2014

Members : Ann Greenwood ( Chair ab), Hannah Baldwin, John Blackwell, Jonti Davis ,Mike Gleeson, Victoria Haines,  Chris Linton , Sarabjit Mastana, Jonathon Potter ( ab), Steve Rothberg ( Chair), Richard Taylor (ab), Jon Walker.

Present for item 14/6 :           Kate Clift and Sue Sargent

In Attendance:                         Brigette Vale, Secretary


14/1.   Apologies for Absence

Apologies for absence were received from Ann Greenwood, Richard Taylor and Jonathon Potter. The deputy Chair, Professor Rothberg chaired the meeting.

14/2.   Business of the Agenda

No items were unstarred

14/3.   Minutes

EC13-M3

The Minutes of the meeting held on 18 October 2013 were confirmed

14/4. Matters Arising from the Minutes

EC14-P1

The Committee noted matters arising from the Minutes. It was noted that the vacancy for a member of Senate remained unfilled because many Senate members were due to complete their terms of office in 2014. It was agreed that when the Senate membership had been updated a member would be sought.

14/5.   Action Between Meetings

EC14-P2

The Committee noted action taken between meetings. It was agreed that proposals agreed between meetings should be given an identifying reference number which could be used to report against. This would address the issue of continuity when reporting back to the Committee on action taken in individual cases.

Action BPV

 

14/6.   Gift Acceptance and Approval

EC14-P3 , EC14-P3a , EC14-P3b , EC14-P3c , EC14-P3d (Not available on the Web)

1.  The Committee considered a draft Code of Practice relating to the ethical approval of philanthropic gifts including the establishment of the Ethical Approvals (Gifts) Sub Committee. It was noted that the Code of Practice had been benchmarked against other policies and reflected principles which had previously been discussed and agreed by the Ethics Committee. It would be the responsibility of DARO to put this into operation. Under section 7- Ethical checklist it was felt that it could be difficult to ascertain what the intentions of a donor might be and it was suggested that the third bullet point should be amended to determining whether the donor’s gift was philanthropic in line with the definition of such a gift in the paper.

The Committee noted the high quality and comprehensive information which was presented elsewhere on the agenda in relation to proposed philanthropic gifts. It was felt that there had been considerable developments in expertise in this area since the processes for consideration of philanthropic gifts had first been developed. Accordingly the Committee felt that there was no longer a need for the proposed Ethical Approvals (Gifts) Sub Committee. It was agreed that the Director of DARO would make decisions on projects, gifts, causes and campaigns where their value was less than £50k. DARO would provide documentation for the Ethics Committee to make decisions on projects, gifts, causes and campaigns in excess of £50k. To ensure there was no delay in processing such proposals action could be taken between meetings by the Chair with the advice of a small sub group of the Ethics Committee.

It was agreed that the procedure would be reviewed after a year’s operation.

It was also noted that in time the £50k threshold for approval by the Director of DARO should be reviewed.

Action DARO/BPV

2.  The Committee received and considered a  summary of current and future fundraising campaigns and projects for which the University was expected to raise in excess of £250k. The paper outlined 3 main headings, Sport Strategy, Business and Enterprise, and LUiL, with a number of sub projects under each heading. It was confirmed  that the projects outlined and their donors were expected to be ethically acceptable. If a donor to any of the projects described in the paper was  to make a gift in excess of £50k to these projects then they would still have to come forward to Ethics Committee for approval. If a donor came forward with a gift below the £50k threshold, then this would be considered by the Director of DARO using the ethical checklist.

If a new sub project was to be identified under the main headings outlined in the paper, its addition would not routinely require the approval of the Ethics Committee. It would be the responsibility of the Director of DARO to be mindful of the ethical issues in any such cases and take the necessary action.

If a new major campaign was identified in addition to the three outlined in the paper then it would need to come forward to the Ethics Committee for approval.

3.  The Committee considered due diligence  profiles relating to relevant past, current and potential gifts to the  University. The Committee welcomed the substantial and thorough information provided in each case for consideration.

It was noted that in several cases the gifts were from trusts or foundations rather than an individual. It was felt that it would be useful to consider the objects of the trust or foundation in such cases as well as the nature and composition of the trustees, eg whether family members or legal representatives. It was felt that where a gift was coming from a trust or foundation rather than an individual this should be made explicit, together with an outline of their charitable objects and summary of previous giving. It was felt that information which was not available publicly should not be included as background.

The Committee thanked DARO for their considerable work in this area and approved all the gifts from donors listed in agenda paper EC14-3c.

4.  The Committee was invited to consider a list of long standing significant donors to the University who were considered to represent low levels of reputational risk.

The Committee asked for further information in a number of cases:

Clarification was requested in relation to donor 10076328 as to the status of this gift which was referred to as sponsorship.

Confirmation was sought that the gift from Donor 10047317 had no gender issues associated with it, given its current membership policy.

It was noted that the gift from donor 10077367 should not be considered a philanthropic gift since it related to a research project. DARO was asked to advise the Provost as to whether there was any continuing activity in relation to this donor.

Action DARO/Provost

Further information was requested on Donor 10076352.  It was agreed that DARO should advise the PVCE on these issues and they would be resolved by Chair’s action.

Action DARO/PVCE

 

14/7.   LSU Ethical Policy

EC14-P4

The Committee noted the combined Environmental and Ethical policy of the Students’ Union.  It was noted that paragraphs 1 and 8 were particularly relevant together with the Fairtrade policy. It was noted that the policy had not been updated since 2011 and that there were plans to update it. It was confirmed that LSU did obtain advice from the University’s Environment Manager in respect of its policy.  Members asked for clarification as to how LSU approached the issue of visitors and speakers to the Union and whether or not the use of an ethical checklist procedure would be appropriate. It was agreed that the PVC(E) would follow this up with the LSU members of the Committee.

Action PVC(E)/JD

 

14/8.   Agenda Items for the Ethics Committee 2013/14

EC14-P5

The Committee considered proposed agenda items for the Ethics Committee for 2013/14. It was noted that this list had been generated when the Ethics Committee had first been established in order to identify priorities. The Committee had addressed all matters on the list and it was felt that it had served its purpose. It was agreed that any activities which required completion should be incorporated into the list of action under Matters Arising.

 

14/9.   External Review of Ethical Processes at Loughborough University

EC14-P6

The Committee considered the report of an external review of ethical processes at Loughborough University. Members referred to Minute 14/4 of agenda item 15.

The Committee received a report of the review of the operation of the Ethical Approvals (Human Participants) Sub Committee (HPSC). The review had been undertaken at the request of the PMB established by Operations Committee to look at research governance in human studies. It was noted that the University wished to be able to act as a sponsor for clinical studies with NHS patients and that this required an expansion in this area of governance.

The report recommended the expansion of the membership of the Committee to enable it to carry out independent scientific and statistical reviews of research proposals. There was concern that this was outside the current remit of the Sub Committee and extended beyond its current responsibility which was to provide ethical scrutiny of projects. It was not clear therefore what the role of the Sub Committee would be and whether it was appropriate to expand it in this way or whether another group should be established.

It was noted that this would also represent a clear expansion in the workload of the Committee members and adequate resources would need to be made available as identified in the implementation plan. The Ethics Committee was supportive of the work of the HPSC and wished to ensure that it had adequate resources to fulfil its remit.

It was felt that if any of the requirements identified in the review report could be delegated this should be arranged.

The Committee was of the view that the role of the HPSC needed further consideration and requested the Deputy Vice Chancellor, who chaired the Working Group that commissioned the review, to refer it back to the Working Group and to Operations Committee.

Action DVC

 

14/10. MSc Project

EC14-P7 (Not available on the Web)

The Committee considered a request for ethical approval for a proposed MSc project. The MSc project, which was being undertaken at a company location away from the University, involved animal testing. The Committee considered the ethical implications of approving such a project and felt that they were unable to do so at this point. There was insufficient information about the project purpose or about the ethical approval that had been completed at the company. The proposal also represented new territory for the Committee. It was felt that there needed to be a fuller debate on the matter and the development of a process for consideration of such proposals.

It was agreed that the deputy Chair should discuss with the project supervisor whether an alternative project could be developed or whether data could be gathered in an alternative manner. It was agreed that Committee members with relevant expertise should assist the chair in this discussion.

It was further agreed that there should be a report to the next meeting of the Committee on the potential extent of similar activity on campus.

Action BPV/PVCE

 

14/11. Corporate Social Responsibility

The Committee noted progress towards identifying a strategy on Corporate Social Responsibility. It was reported that the Chief Operating Officer had established a group to take this forward.

 

14/12. Promotion of the Work of the Ethics Committee

EC14-P8

The Committee noted the proposals for the promotion of the work of the Ethics Committee. It endorsed the proposals but felt that it would be most appropriate to deliver a presentation to the senior management to ensure that ethical issues were widely addressed. Jon Blackwell asked to be included in any such presentation.

Action BPV/PVC(E)

 

14/13. Training on Ethical Processes

EC14-P9

The Committee noted the provision of training on ethical processes within the University. It was agreed that rather than developing further training in this area it would be more helpful to develop a webpage with FAQs.

Action BPV/PVC(E)

 

14/14. Ethical Checklist for Taught Programmes

EC14-P10

The Committee approved an ethical checklist for taught programmes and recommended it to Teaching and learning Committee.

Action BPV

 

14/15. Ethical Approvals (Human Participants) Sub Committee

EC14-P11

The Minutes of the Ethical Approvals (Human Participants) Sub Committee meeting held on 27 January 2014 were received.

 

14/16. Date of Next Meeting

9 May 2014 (am)

Author: Brigette Vale

Date: February 2014