Our commitment

Cranfield University subscribes to the Nolan principles of public life. These are translated into Cranfield’s ethical principles which are consistent with our mission, vision and values and are acted upon by all members of the Cranfield community.

We apply these ethical principles in every aspect of our operations. Our mission is to work in partnership with business, academic, governments and other organisations to develop and deliver applied research and innovative education in science, technology, and management. Our vision is to be valued globally for taking the real-world issues of today to deliver a sustainable future. Our values are: ambition, impact, respect and community. We create a culture of academic freedom, and promote and encourage the transformation and application of that wisdom, knowledge and learning for the benefit of industry, the public services, and individuals and for the wider public benefit.

Council, Executive, Senate, their subsidiary committees and the wider management of the University are responsible for the promotion, implementation and use of these ethical principles.

Practices relevant to particular areas of activity (for instance teaching or research) and particular members of the University (for instance students or staff) will vary in specific application, however, the core principles will always apply.

Cranfield’s ethical principles

  1. Responsibility and accountability
    We will embed the principle of individual responsibility and accountability at every level of the University’s management and governance structures. We will raise concerns relating to ethical matters as they arise.
  2. Integrity
    We will be honest and truthful; act in accordance with all relevant legislation and statutory requirements; declare interests and appropriately manage possible conflicts; be transparent and consistent in our decision making; maintain our independence in engaging with outside parties; and conduct fundraising and partnership activities in line with principles set out in these ethical principles.
  3. Intellectual freedom
    We will protect academic freedom and uphold the freedom to research and convey research findings. We will uphold freedom of speech, the advancement of ideas and learning through debate for our community of staff and students.
  4. Equality of opportunity
    We will treat all people with dignity and ensure that no person will be treated less favourably.
  5. Collegiality
    In order to uphold our commitment to collegiality, we will promote within the University an inclusive and participatory working and social environment in which we encourage, support and behave appropriately to one another in line with our values.
  6. Sustainability
    We will minimise any negative impact we have on the natural and built environment by effectively managing our resources. The University has signed the Sustainable Development Goals Accord, signalling the University’s ongoing commitment to sustainability and environmental responsibility.

These principles govern the conduct of each member of the University. Whilst the principles apply to all activities, there are in addition a number of areas where more detailed ethical principles and practices have been set out.

Please refer to related University web pages which contain links to other related policies and handbooks:

The ethical principles in practice

It is impossible to devise a single set of rules to resolve every ethical dilemma that members of the Cranfield community may face. The ethical principles should therefore guide the exercise of judgement in all cases. The following guidelines provide further information on how each principle should apply in practice and include links to other procedures as appropriate.

Three simple steps should be followed to identify and resolve the ethical implications of individual decisions and actions:

  1. Consider whether what you plan to do is compatible with these principles. Further guidance is often available from existing policies, several of which are listed above.
  2. Ask yourself how you would explain your actions if you would have to justify them to close friends and family, of if they were on the front page of a newspaper. What would be the impact on your reputation, or that of the University? How would you feel about asking someone else to do what you are proposing to do?
  3. Seek advice from an appropriate person, such as a colleague or line manager, or the Cranfield University Research Ethics Committee, School and/or University Executive who will consider dilemmas of particular difficulty where principles may conflict.

Where possible, keep a record of your decision making and the rationale behind it. Consider and record any conflicts of interest.

All members of Cranfield University will seek to conduct their work in a professional manner to the benefit of all the communities that the Cranfield seeks to serve. More specifically, they will not claim knowledge, competence or qualifications they do not possess. In their work members will (i) avoid harm to anyone, and (ii) where conflicts between professional positions arise, members will seek to resolve these with integrity. Integrity implies not merely honesty but fair dealing and truthfulness.

Other useful information on ethics

Ethics in Practice: Promoting Ethical Conduct in Public Life
Committee on Standards in Public Life

Institute of Business Ethics
Encouraging high standards of business behaviour based on ethical values

The University is not responsible for the content of these websites.

Last updated

This statement was last updated in March 2023.