Policy statement on the use of animals in research

The core purpose of the University of the West of England, Bristol (UWE Bristol) is to advance knowledge, inspire people, and transform futures. The University promotes the highest standards in its research and teaching. This is the context for any work with animals.

The University is committed to improving health and wellbeing whilst promoting environmental sustainability and protecting ecological diversity. We deliver outstanding teaching programmes in many disciplines such as biological and environmental sciences, ecology, and wildlife conservation. We support these taught programmes with world-leading and internationally excellent research.

The University is committed to the three ‘R’s of reduction, replacement and refinement in relation to animal research, and ethical scrutiny always considers this issue.

UWE Bristol strongly supports and encourages research that meets the highest ethical standards, including that which involves animals. The University’s education and training in the area is contributing highly skilled and motivated individuals, who have received excellent training in ethical practice, to the furthering of conservation worldwide. Among the many benefits of the University’s research involving animals are wildlife conservation (both in the UK and overseas), crime prevention, understanding the mechanisms of human disease, including cancer, and sustainable energy generation.

The University does not hold a Home Office Licence, and has no plans to apply for one. Work involving live animals which would require such a licence does not take place at UWE Bristol.

UWE Bristol research and teaching activities involving animals do not require a Home Office Licence but are subject to rigorous scrutiny by the University’s Animal Welfare and Ethics Sub Committee (AWESC). The Committee includes members who are veterinary surgeons who are independent experts from outside of the University. Scrutiny of all applications to work with animals includes a detailed cost-benefit analysis which includes the extent to which there are potential benefits to animals, humans, communities and societies.

The University requires all activities involving animals, whether undertaken by staff or students, to be based upon the underpinning principle of appropriate respect for life. The University expects all staff and students engaged in research and educational activities to comply with both the letter and the spirit of legislation, regulation, best practice and professional and ethical guidelines. UWE Bristol will always encourage, as part of research or teaching, the development of new understandings, methods, techniques or equipment to improve ethical practice, including animal welfare.

How to apply for Animal Welfare and Ethics Committee approval

All research which involves animals of any species (either live animals, including invertebrates, or animal by-products of any kind) must have approval by the Animal Welfare and Ethics Committee. Please contact researchgovernance@uwe.ac.uk for further information about how to apply, and to access relevant guidance.

You can also refer to the University’s sustainability policy and strategy documents; in particular, the statement on the use of animal skins, hair and feathers (PDF), is particularly relevant for activities involving animal by-products. 

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