Outside Appointments and Conflict of Interest Policy
Conflict of Interest Policy
The policy, including a useful summary leaflet covering the key points, is available on the University's Conflict of Interest website.
In a University of the size and complexity of Oxford, conflicts of interest are bound to occur. The policy is not in place to prevent activities taking place, but to facilitate activities and to protect individuals and the University from any appearance of impropriety.
A conflict of interest arises where the commitments and obligations owed by a member of staff or student to the University or to other bodies (for example a funding body) are likely to be compromised, or may appear to be compromised, by:
- personal gain, or gain to immediate family (or a person with whom the staff or student has a close personal relationship) whether financial or otherwise; or
- the commitments and obligations that person owes to another person or body.
Each individual is responsible for recognising situations in which they have a conflict of interest or might reasonably be seen by others to have a conflict, to declare that conflict to the appropriate person and to take such further steps as may be appropriate in line with the conflict of interest policy.
The general rule (with the exception of committee business) is that disclosure should be made in writing to the Head of Department at the time the conflict first arises or it is recognised that a conflict might be perceived. Note that the duty to declare a possible conflict applies to the perception of the situation as well as the actual existence of a conflict. This is important to protect the reputation of the University and funders, as well as to avoid any consequences (e.g. financial loss) of conflicts arising.
There are a number of examples provided on the website. For further support in the department please contact Dr Jocasta Gardner.
There are two training courses available:
- Conflict of Interest: Identifying interests and making declarations aimed at staff making declarations
- Conflicts of Interest Managing Declarations and Conflicts aimed at those reviewing declarations and COI management plan
Approval for outside appointments
All academic and academic-related employees and emeriti, who are actively engaged in research, or who hold University appointments (and holders of Visitor Agreements of durations over 3months) must complete a separate OA1 form each time they wish to gain approval for any potential income-earning or financial interest which may involve a conflict of interest with an individual’s University role, as well as for holding an outside appointment.
In addition, a conflict of interest management plan may have to be agreed with the Head of Department.
The OA1 form and the full University policy (in line with Council Regulations 5 of 2004) are available here:
All forms should be submitted to Sally Mullins for Head of Department approval.
Departmental Guidance on Outside Appointments
An individual OA1 form is required for each new activity, or for continuing an activity for which the past approval has expired. Please note that Part 5 of the OA1 form is for listing activities which have been approved previously; the main point of this section is to check whether the total amount of approved activity exceeds 30 days per year (it is NOT for listing multiple new activities).
In the case of an activity with no end date, approval will not usually be given for more than 3 years. Activities approved for multiple years do not need to be renewed within that period.
If you are not sure of the approval dates received for an ongoing activity, please check with Brenda Willoughby or submit a new OA1 form.
Please note that an OA1 form is not required for appointments which are considered to be standard academic activities. The following examples are intended as illustrations to clarify what does, and does not, require an OA1 form.
Requiring an OA1 form:
- Being a college Stipendiary Lecturer
- Being an Editor-in-Chief of a journal if there is a significant time commitment and/or payment
- Serving on an ERC panel requiring more than 5 days effort
Not requiring an OA1 form:
- Being a college Non-stipendiary Lecturer
- Giving a colloquium lecture for which an honorarium is received
- Being an external examiner at another university
- Being a reviewer for another university (e.g. REF preparations, Athena Swan submission, departmental review) if no more than 2 days effort
- Serving on an appointment panel for another university
- Reviewing journal articles or being an Associate Editor
- Reviewing EPSRC proposals, or serving on an EPSRC panel
- Being on a scholarship selection committee requiring no more than 2 days effort per year
If you are unsure if an OA1 form is required, please discuss with the HoD or HAF, noting that the level of time commitment and remuneration will be key factors.
Using an OA2 form, academic members of staff are requested to submit a nil return each October, if appropriate, to confirm that no outside appointments have been held in the past academic year.