Notices

  • Thursday 8 December 2016
  • NO. 5153
  • VOL. 147

Consultative Notices

Mathematical, Physical and Life Sciences Division/Education Committee

Review of the Departments of Plant Sciences and Zoology

Education Committee and the Board of the Mathematical, Physical, and Life Sciences Division are undertaking a review of the Departments of Plant Sciences and Zoology as part of Council's programme of rolling reviews of departments.

Teaching and learning issues will be given preliminary consideration by a 'teaching and learning' sub-panel on 23 January. This panel will be composed of internal members of the review panel, and (if available) one external, and will be chaired by the Associate Head of Division (Academic), Professor Robert Taylor. The conclusions of this sub-panel will be reported as recommendations to the full review committee, which will meet 3–5 May and will be chaired by the Head of Division, Professor Donal Bradley.

The Review Committee would welcome written comments on matters falling within its terms of reference given below. These should be sent to Jared Hutchings (email: jared.hutchings@mpls.ox.ac.uk). Comments on detailed learning and teaching matters should be sent by 13 January in advance of the teaching and learning panel. Comments on any other matters should be sent by 7 April.

The terms of reference of the review are:

1 To review the quality of academic activities in the two departments, by reference to:

  • international standards of excellence;
  • action taken since the last review of the departments;
  • planning statements at department and divisional levels, and in the context of the University's mission statement and strategic/corporate plan.

In particular:

(a) the quality of the research of the departments, including their participation in interdepartmental, interdivisional and interdisciplinary activities, their research profileand strategy, and future challenges and opportunities;

(b) the quality of undergraduate and graduate programmes, and their delivery and related issues, including:

  • access and admissions
  • curriculum design and programme structure
  • teaching, learning and assessment
  • the relationship between teaching and research
  • academic and pastoral support and guidance
  • the provision and use of learning resources (including staff resources)
  • specific arrangements for the pursuit of graduate studies
  • relationships with colleges
  • quality assurance mechanisms;

(c) the organisation of the departments, their management structure and the relationship between the departments and the Mathematical, Physical and Life Sciences Division, including such matters as:

  • strategic planning (including relationship to the divisional five-year plan and the University's strategic/corporate plan)
  • academic and non-academic staffing and recruitment
  • student number planning
  • terms of appointment for academic staff, including career development and equal opportunities issue
  • fundraising;

(d) the relationship (structural and operational) between units within the departments, and between the departments and cognate subject areas and colleges to which they are linked in teaching and research.

2 To consider the current and long-term financial position of, and funding arrangements for, the departments, and its financial strategy.

General Notices

Gazette publication arrangements

This is the final Gazette of Michaelmas term.

The first Gazette of Hilary term will be published on 12 January. The usual deadlines will apply.

The Prevent duty

Following the approval of the resolution on 31 May (see Gazette No 5136, 9 June 2016, p613), the University's Prevent Steering Group has published a draft training plan on the University's Prevent website (www.ox.ac.uk/staff/working_at_oxford/policies_procedures/prevent-duty). Members of Congregation are invited to send comments on the draft plan to prevent@admin.ox.ac.uk by 15 December.

Committee on Animal Care and Ethical Review

Annual Report 2015–16

The University's local ethical review process was set up in 1999 to ensure that all aspects of research involving animals conform to the requirements of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986, revised in 2012 and commonly referred to as A(SP)A. The Animal Care and Ethical Review Committee (ACER) is required to report annually to Council and, through it, to Congregation. ACER provides assurance to the Establishment Licence Holder on the ethical treatment and welfare of animals used in conjunction with the medical and zoological research projects that are undertaken in departments across the University. This report summarises the range of work carried out and the support measures in place to ensure compliance with A(SP)A and the requirements of the Home Office Animals in Science Regulation Unit.

A(SP)A requires that research using animals is properly justified, that any viable alternatives to their use are fully considered, and in all cases where animals are subjected to invasive or non-invasive procedures that any and all suffering is kept to a minimum. The University's Animal Use Policy requires that everyone whose research includes the use of animals is proactive in pursuing the refinement, reduction and replacement (usually referred to as the 3Rs) in procedures involving live animals wherever possible and that they engage fully in the ethical review process of review and monitoring of animal work. The Animal Use Policy also commits the University to providing standards of accommodation and care that exceed, wherever possible, the minimum standards required by legislation. The responsibility for provision and maintenance of the accommodation and facilities is devolved to the Director of Biomedical Services who works with animal care staff and researchers to ensure that animal facilities are managed and maintained as efficiently and to as high a standard as possible. The Biomedical Sciences Building, which was completed in 2008/9, has raised standards of animal welfare through the provision of world-class facilities for animals in the University's Science Area. The University also employs a number of Veterinary Surgeons, some of whom are designated Named Veterinary Surgeons under the Home Office Licence for the Establishment. The Veterinary Surgeons liaise with animal care staff and researchers and ensure that all aspects of animal health and welfare are considered at all stages of research projects. The Veterinary Surgeons are also involved in the local ethical review process.

The Veterinary Surgeons have put in place a Refinement Initiative to promote best practice, integration of new techniques and resources, and a comprehensive process for the retrospective review of Project Licences. The Veterinary Team also contributes to Departmental Animal Welfare Meetings to provide timely updates to the research community on various topical and practically relevant issues which relate to animal welfare, compliance and the 3Rs.  The Veterinary Team continue to assist researchers to resolve animal health issues related to procedures and clinical disease. In the past year the team also provided certificates for animals that were exported, supplied a range of drugs and medicines and attended and presented at various workshops and conferences related to the use of animals in research.

The Home Office Inspectors made around 24 visits to the 7 separate animal facilities during the current reporting year, all of which were unannounced. During the period of the report there were no issues associated with non-compliance reported in respect of the facilities, or the schedule of premises for the University.

The Animal Welfare and Ethical Review Bodies

There are currently six Animal Welfare and Ethical Review Bodies (AWERBS) that consider applications for new project licences, amendment requests for current project licences, retrospective reports on current project licences and any other welfare and ethical review matters relevant to animal-based research involving staff working at the University. The review process also includes the promotion of the 3Rs and review and discussion of any animal-related research that falls outside of A(SP)A but is covered by the European Directive 63/2010, and any collaborative or joint ventures involving Oxford-based researchers that takes place elsewhere in the world. Collaborative research projects that fall outside the jurisdiction of A(SP)A and the EU Directive are required to demonstrate that they meet a similar standard of welfare and ethics that apply to research carried out in Oxford.

The Animal Care and Ethical Review Committee is the overarching ethical review board and acts in collaboration with the five Departmental AWERBs and a sub-committee that considers the application of the principles of the 3Rs in research. The ACER Committee considers project licence applications that have severe category protocols or employ novel techniques in the type of research undertaken, and any projects that use sensitive species. The Local or Departmental AWERBs review project licence applications that involve mild or moderate protocols in the planned research. In 2015 it was proposed that AWERB Committees should adopt a paperless strategy to reduce paper use and save time in the preparation and circulation of review documentation. This year the paperless initiative for committees has proved very effective and most committee members now use electronic format papers for review and at meetings. The proposal to utilise the Sharepoint system to process committee papers and applications is still under review at the time of the report. In the meantime the Sharepoint site is used to provide online access to a series of guidance documents and information to assist researchers and applicants with preparation of Personal and Project Licences and participation in the review process, committee dates and deadline information.

AWERB Hub

An initiative by the national Animals in Science Committee (ASC), an non-departmental public body sponsored by the Home Office, to set up a series of AWERB Hubs saw Oxford nominated as a hub for nine research establishments in the region. The concept is to provide a discussion forum for sharing best practice, information and collaboration. To date the scheme is in the early stages and further guidance from the ASC is awaited.

Home Office Licences

The Home Office online application system, ASPeL, is fully operational and all Personal Licences at Oxford are managed through the online system. The Home Office invited Oxford to participate in the early adopter programme to extend the online application process to Project Licences. In early 2016 the Home Office Administration Unit in BMS began supervising Project Licence applicants as they submitted their application to the Inspectors, following approval under the University's Ethical Review Process.

Personal Licences

During the period of the report there were a total of 1,318 Personal Licences held by researchers at the University of Oxford. The Personal Licence authorises the holder to undertake various procedures according to their individual training and supervision qualifications. Each Personal Licence Holder is required to qualify at Home Office approved training courses before being permitted to handle or perform surgical procedures on animals. Animal care staff also are required to undertake training on approved courses run by the Institute of Animal Technology in order to fulfil their duties. Home Office approved training courses are run within the Biomedical Services Department at regular intervals during the year. During the year a total of 209 new Personal Licences were issued to University staff and 201 Personal Licences were revoked for staff and students who ended their courses, completed their research or moved to other establishments.

Project Licences

The Home Office extended the ASPeL online licensing process to Project Licences during the year. Project Licence applications are only submitted to the Home Office once they have successfully completed the University Ethical Review Process. To date 12 new Project Applications have been submitted online instead of in paper format. As current licences expire or require substantial amendment these will be submitted online.

There were a total of 156 active Project Licences held by researchers at the University during the period of the report compared to 152 active Project Licences during the previous reporting period. Project Licences authorise the holder to undertake a research project that has clearly defined objectives and anticipated outcomes and each is valid for a period of five years. Project Licence Holders are responsible to the Home Secretary for the compliance and conduct of all researchers working under their project and for compliance with the closely defined procedures that may be carried out in pursuit of their research goals. The University's Home Office Liaison Officers in Biomedical Services are involved throughout the Project Licence applications process in their role as secretary to the AWERBs and provide guidance to applicants in the initial stages of drafting a new project licence in terms of layout and content prior to the Veterinary Surgeon and Named Animal Care and Welfare Officer (NACWO) review. During the year, a total of 33 new project applications were considered and approved by the AWERBs compared to 15 applications in 2014–15, and a total of 48 amendment requests for existing projects were reviewed and approved compared to 44 amendment requests in the previous year. During the year there were non-compliance issues in relation to three project licences; these were dealt with administratively by the Home Office and the Establishment Licence Holder.

The distribution of active project licences between the AWERBs at the end of the reporting period was as shown in the table below.

Animal Welfare and Ethical Review BodyTotal (152)1%  PPLs
Animal Care and Ethical Review Committee 31 23
Clinical Medicine 75 49
Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics with Experimental Psychology 18 12
Pathology    10 7
Pharmacology  15 10
Zoology  3 2

Processing time for applications and amendments includes the internal review by the Named Veterinary Surgeon, NACWO, AWERBs and final granting by the Home Office. During the period of this report the average processing time was 150 working days for original Project Licence applications and 100 working days for a Project Licence amendment.

A review of the efficiency of the AWERBs was reported to ACER in July 2016. The recommendations included some changes to the current number and constitution of the AWERBs across the University. The recommendations are in the process of review and implementation.  

Species Used and Severity of Procedures

Animals are used in research only where there is no viable or satisfactory alternative available. All projects are subject to assessment by internal review within the University and by the Home Office where the potential benefits are considered against the adverse effects and potential cost to the animals concerned. The University pursues research using a number of non-animal methods such as computer modelling, tissue culture, cell and molecular biology, and research with human subjects. These methods continue to be used and integrated into research projects wherever possible and appropriate and new technology will be incorporated if it is deemed to offer a useable alternative; however, animal experimentation continues to remain necessary in certain circumstances where technology is currently lacking.

Projects where the use of animals is necessary include research into the prevention and treatment of human diseases (including cancer, HIV, tuberculosis, Parkinson's, diabetes and heart failure); and the study of host–parasite interactions (for example in malaria) continues to be an area where it is necessary to understand the interaction between systems (including the effects which chemical or neural changes may have on the circulation, respiration or other functions). Similarly, where it is necessary to study behaviour or complex brain functions, transplantation and musculoskeletal research, the use of animals is still necessary though restricted to the minimum number required. The involvement of a broad range of individuals in the ethical review process, including lay members and animal care staff, ensures that it remains proactive in pursuing the adoption of best practice, promoting a culture of care and encouraging education and training to enhance staff skills and raise awareness of ethical issues.

A variety of different species of animals are used in research projects at the University as may be seen from the table below:

SpeciesNumber used in 2015–16 Number used in 2014–15 
Mouse  207,216  208,905 
Fish (Zebrafish)  16,051  13,136 
Rat    2,363  3,880 
Frog  322  280 
Guinea pig  81  81 
Ferret  38  27 
Rabbit 
Non-human primates 

The actual severity of procedures reported during 2015–16, drawn from the Return of Procedures forms sent to the Home Office, were as shown in the table below:

University of Oxford Return of Procedures 2015: Severity
Mild 53%
Sub-threshold 29%
Moderate 14%
Non-recovery 3%
Severe 1%
Total 100%

A series of training courses is run by Biomedical Services for researchers to gain Home Office accredited qualifications in procedures involving animals. The courses are run at regular intervals throughout the year and are designed to cater for delegates from within the University and other establishments. The veterinary team teach the majority of the accredited modular Laboratory Animal Management and Welfare course (successful completion of which is a requirement for new personal licence holders), which run four times a year, either delivering lectures or running practical sessions. The adoption of WebLearn to host training materials has proved successful and students are able to access pre-reading and guidance information prior to attendance at the course. The training courses have achieved accreditation from the Federation of Laboratory Animal Science Associations (FELASA) which provides parity with European training standards and programmes for those who complete the courses. The lead trainer, the two Named Veterinary Surgeons and a member of Biomedical Services act as Named Training and Competence Officers under the Home Office Establishment licence, and provide additional support for licence holders and assurance for the University that appropriate training is undertaken. This year the lead trainer received an RSPCA award for outstanding contributions to the understanding of laboratory rodent behaviour and reducing the numbers of animals used in experiments through better design and statistical analysis.

During the year a total of 208 delegates attended and passed the Modular Training Courses for researchers and 41 delegates attended the Module 5 Course designed for those intending to apply for Project Licences.

The Oxford Online Supervision and Competency Recording database (OSCR) for all Personal Licensees has now been fully populated with details of the training and levels of competence of Project Licence Holders and Personal Licence Holders who work with animals. Animal care staff and technicians and Veterinary Surgeons are included in the record and an updated report on staff capabilities may be obtained at any given time in support of review or compliance matters. There remains in place a programme of regular audits of the information held in the system and all licence holders have to be endorsed by a competent trainer or supervisor in order to be able to complete any type of procedure and animal care work.

In addition to training courses and recording of competence, members of the Home Office Administration Unit (HOAU) within Biomedical Services attend the Departmental Animal Welfare Meetings each term to promote best practice, the 3Rs aspects of ongoing research and to discuss the importance of compliance with A(SP)A. HOAU staff attended 13 Animal Welfare Meeting groups across the medical and scientific departments during the year. Training and information delivered at the meetings included a number of topics such as Annual Return of Procedure Guidance, the Refinement Initiative, access to SharePoint and available resources, Effective Breeding according to the Home Office GAA toolkit, and various training and education updates.

Engagement with other Organisations

The University of Oxford remains a signatory (one of over 250) to the statement supporting the EU Directive on the protection of animals used for scientific purposes.

In February 2016 Medical Sciences Division and Department of Biomedical Sciences hosted the second annual Oxford 3Rs Research Day2 in the Department of Pharmacology. The Research Day was attended by some 60 delegates including Project Licence Holders, Personal Licence Holders, Veterinary Surgeons, Animal Welfare Staff and others with an interest in animal-based research. The programme included presentations and discussion sessions on a variety of subjects including replacement technology, the importance of public engagement in animal research, non-invasive reporting methods on animals in longitudinal studies, experimental design and the importance of appropriate reporting on animal studies. In addition to the talks the University's 3Rs Resource on SharePoint was launched with the aim to improve the ways in which the University fulfils some of its commitments to the 3Rs, improve engagement of researchers with adopting advances and developments in the 3Rs.

In June 2016 Biomedical Services hosted a review of the implementation of the Home Office Guidance on Efficient Breeding of Genetically Modified Animals. The review team comprised four Home Office Inspectors who conducted a table top review and also visited the principal breeding unit. The review found the University's implementation of the guidance to be exemplary with only four minor recommendations. The main recommendation was that the use of the Mouse Colony Management System (MCMS) should become mandatory for all Project Licence Holders. Full implementation is expected by the end of 2016.

There have been no official external lay visitors to the BSB in the current reporting year. However, the visits to animal areas by members of staff families continues to be popular with around six taking place each year. The option for family members to visit the facility is being extended to researchers engaged in project work at the establishment.

BMS and the non-human primate research groups are currently working with Understanding Animal Research (UAR) to produce a 360-degree tour of the primate unit along with interviews regarding the nature of the work and its scientific value. Once complete the project will see the tour footage and interviews published on the UAR public-facing website.

The 3Rs Sub-Committee and the Home Office Administration Unit have continued to work during the year with the National Centre on the 3Rs (NC3Rs)  to promote best practice and to incorporate the 3Rs principles in animal research projects. The Chairman of the 3Rs Sub-Committee continues to liaise with the NC3Rs as a panel member for the NC3Rs Grant Assessment Panel and has participated in exchange visits and briefings to NC3Rs coordinated projects. Oxford students and researchers are actively encouraged to participate in NC3Rs grant programmes and an annual 3Rs Research Day is coordinated by the Home Office Administration Unit within BMS.


1 Four of the peak figure of 156 licences expired during the reporting period.
2 The Oxford 3Rs Day featured in a UAR blog with video interviews with Oxford researchers details of which may be seen at www.understandinganimalresearch.org.uk/news/animal-welfare-alternatives/animal-welfare-at-oxford-university.

Visiting Professorships

Humanities

The Humanities Board has conferred the title of Visiting Professor of Greek History on Professor Irad Malkin, BA Tel Aviv, MA PhD Pennsylvania, Professor of Ancient Greek History, Tel Aviv, from 1 October 2016 until 30 September 2019.

Medical Sciences

The Medical Sciences Board has conferred the title of Visiting Professor of Sarcoma Pathology on P C W Hogendoorn, PhD, MD, for a further period of 3 years from 1 November 2016.

The Medical Sciences Board has conferred the title of Visiting Professor of Musculoskeletal Sciences on M Kjaer, MD DMedSci Copenhagen, for a period of 3 years from 1 January 2017.

Selection Committees

Composition of Selection Committees

The composition of the selection committees to the posts below, proceedings to fill which are currently in progress, is as follows:

Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Development and External Affairs)

  Appointed by
Vice-Chancellor, in the chair  ex officio 
Rector of Exeter  ex officio 
Professor S Foot  Humanities Division 
Professor R Goodman  Social Sciences Division 
Professor P Grant  Mathematical, Physical and Life Sciences Division 
Professor Dame Kay Davies  Medical Sciences Division 
Warden of Keble  Vice-Chancellor 

Head of the Social Sciences Division

  Appointed by
Vice-Chancellor  ex officio 
Master of University College Council 
Professor G Marshall  Council 
Professor P Tufano Council 
Professor C Adam Social Sciences Division 
Professor M Stevens Social Sciences Division 
Professor N Woods Social Sciences Division 

Electoral Boards

Revised composition of an Electoral Board

The revised composition of the electoral board to the post below, proceedings to fill which are currently in progress, is as follows:

King Alfonso XIII Professorship of Spanish Studies

  Appointed by
Provost of Queen's (in the chair) The Vice-Chancellor1
Rector of Exeter ex officio
Professor K O'Brien Humanities Division
Dr G Hazbun Modern Languages Faculty
Professor J King Modern Languages Faculty
Dr S Mortimer History Faculty
Dr D Moran Council
Professor T O'Reilly Council
Dr I Watson Council
Professor J Hiddleston Exeter

1Appointed by the Vice-Chancellor under the provisions of Statute IX, Sect 10 and 11.