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Durham University


Code of Conduct

Durham University is a welcoming scholarly community which expects and requires all those attached to it to act with curiosity, integrity and loyalty. The underlying nature of university life is to question, consider and analyse; this extends equally to University Council in its oversight role as the University's principal governing body.

The University prizes certain key qualities. These include: rigour in enquiry and integrity in use of information; respect for difference of views honestly reached and held; transparency and avoidance of conflict of interest; and loyalty to the institution and its goals.

This Code of Conduct sets out expectations for how Council members conduct themselves. It should be read in conjunction with other University policies on issues relevant to governance; with the Committee of University Chair's (CUC) Higher Education Code of Governance; and with the Nolan Principles of Public Life, to all of which members of Council are expected to adhere. University Council members are also Trustees and should observe the advice and guidance of the Charity Commission in the execution of their duties.

Council members should:

  • prepare appropriately for and attend meetings of Council and its committees. Absence should be exceptional and taken with the agreement of the Chair of Council and the appropriate committee chair;
  • always promote the ability of the University to achieve its objectives, exercise their independent judgement with care and skill, and act fairly;
  • take collective responsibility for the efficient and effective use of Council time by, for example, contributing to debate freely and with confidence, but speaking concisely and forbearing to speak when they have no new or significant point to add;
  • be respectful of each other's views, listening, assessing and evaluating them without prejudice;
  • in their communications with other members of Council, be open and transparent and inclusive of all members;
  • safeguard the University's assets, physical and intellectual, including information and confidential discussions affecting the University's property and plans. This duty continues after membership of Council has ceased for any reason;
  • be aware of and consider the long-term consequences of their decisions, the interests of employees, relationships to students, suppliers and other stakeholders, and the impact of their decisions on the community and the environment;
  • be aware of the extent of their powers and not attempt to exceed them. In particular, as non-executive members should not stray into areas which are rightfully reserved to the Vice-Chancellor and his/her executive team;
  • avoid conflicts of interest and always behave with integrity in accordance with guidance issued by the University Secretary;
  • be careful to consider the consequences of actions and decisions which may directly or indirectly bear upon the University's compliance with lay, public perception and reputation, and, if necessary, take advice from the University Secretary;
  • be aware of the privilege of serving a distinguished University and seek in all they do to maintain and enhance its quality and reputation.