Modern Slavery Statement 2022-23


1. Introduction

Incorporated by Royal Charter in 1905, the University of Sheffield is a public research University and is an exempt charity under the terms of the Charities Act 2006. With a turnover in excess of £822m for the financial year ending July 2022, the University is defined by The Modern Slavery Act 2015 (Transparency in Supply Chains) as a commercial organisation.

Modern slavery is a crime and a violation of fundamental human rights. It takes various forms, such as slavery, servitude forced, compulsory labour, and human trafficking, all of which have in common the deprivation of a person’s liberty by another in order to exploit them for personal or commercial gain.

As part of the Higher Education sector, we recognise that we have a duty to take a robust approach in eradicating slavery and human trafficking throughout our supply chains.  This annual statement sets out the steps the University of Sheffield has taken in the last financial year and those we intend to take to address the issues of modern slavery, human trafficking, forced and bonded labour and labour rights violations in our supply chains.

2. The University’s structure, business and supply chains

The University is one of the 24 universities that make up the Russell Group. Members of this group are committed to maintaining the very best research, an outstanding teaching and learning experience, and unrivalled links with business and the public sector.

With over 30,000 students, 8,700 staff and strategic partnerships with many stakeholders, including local national and global organisations.

We are dedicated to sector leading ethical and academic achievement across a broad range of disciplines. Our academic departments are grouped into the following five faculties:

  • Faculty of Arts & Humanities
  • Faculty of Engineering
  • Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health
  • Faculty of Science
  • Faculty of Social Sciences

In addition to the Faculties above, we have the Advanced Manufacturing Group (AMG), which is a network of world-leading research and innovation centres working government agencies to support manufacturing companies of any size around the globe to be innovative and sustainable.

Faculties and the AMG are supported by Professional Services, which is divided into the following structure:

  • Academic Services and External Relations
  • Finance, Infrastructure and Commercial Services
  • Human Resources

We are a member of the North Eastern Universities Purchasing Consortium (NEUPC) which is a member of UK Universities Purchasing Consortia (UKUPC).  UKUPC is a partnership between eight UK purchasing consortia who created a formal entity to support collaborative procurement within Higher and Further Education. All eight consortia work together to share knowledge and best practice, to support each other and the wider procurement community.

We engage on modern slavery and sustainability issues with the wider university sector through our membership of the Higher Education Procurement Association (HEPA) and the national UKUPC Responsible Procurement Group. Additionally, we are part of a HE Sector focus group with the Social Value Task Force on ethical procurement practices.

Spending money with a social and ethical conscience, supporting SMEs, focussing on renewable energy, and ensuring the goods  and services we are procuring are free from modern slavery and human trafficking are just some of the aspects the university’s procurement team focus on.

Using the HE Sector Master Commodity codes our supply chains have been assessed to identify the areas where the risk of Modern Slavery is deemed to be high. Our assessment for the year ended 31st July, 2022 is that the following areas represent a high risk:

  • Estates and Buildings (construction)
  • AV and IT equipment
  • Laboratory supplies

3. Our policies, due diligence, and procurement practices in relation to Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking

We operate the following practices and due diligence in relation to mitigating and managing the risk of
Modern Slavery in our supply chains

  • Suppliers who bid for tendering opportunities are assessed against their compliance with International Labour Organisation standards and the Modern Slavery Act 2015.
  • Staff whose primary job function is Procurement have received and continue to receive training from the Higher Education Procurement Association on Modern Slavery and Protecting Human Rights in the Supply Chain.
  • Staff whose primary job function is Procurement are either qualified Members of the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply (MCIPS) or are actively working towards the qualification. A code of ethics is in place, which requires all MCIPs professionals to foster awareness of human rights, fraud and corruption issues in the supply chain.
  • We engage with NetPositive Futures to address the requirements of the Modern Slavery Act in order to meet our disclosure responsibilities.
  • We work closely with our purchasing consortia the NEUPC and other HE procurement consortia on responsible procurement issues including Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking.
  • Using the HE Master Commodity Code Risk analysis tool we follow the National Procurement Policy Statement requirement to take measures in identifying and mitigating modern slavery risks during all stages of the procurement cycle.
  • When risks are identified we utilise the UKUPC sustainable development goals question bank to assess how suppliers mitigate and manage those risks.
  • We have developed and are now implementing a process for vetting all new suppliers, regardless of contract value, on the compliance with the Modern Slavery Act.
  • We have adopted the HE Sector Code of Supplier Conduct and suppliers are required to sign up to the principles contained within.
  • We have obtained affiliate membership of Electronic Watch via our consortia. 
  • We have undertaken a self-assessment on modern slavery against the Cabinet office toolkit. The assessment shows strong performance in governance and training.

4. Our future actions

We are currently working on the development of risk assessment tool which will enable us to assess the risk of modern slavery across our Tier 1 suppliers. The risk assessment tool will be developed to assess and hotspot our key Tier 1 supplier information  against modern slavery risks by assessing it against the following risk criteria:

  • Geographical risk;
  • Industry/Category risk;
  • Labour type risk (e.g. skilled versus unskilled); and
  • Use of agency labour (UK based risk).

5. Training and measurement

We will continue to improve our training and awareness of the Act within procurement and the wider organisation. Staff whose  primary job function is Procurement will undertake continual professional development and undertake training from the Higher  Education Procurement Association on Modern Slavery and Protecting Human Rights in the Supply Chain. We will measure the number of people trained in both advanced and basic knowledge of the Act.

6. Review and approval

This statement is made pursuant to section 54(1) of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 and is reviewed annually. It was approved by the University Executive Board and signed by the President and Vice Chancellor.

Professor Koen Lamberts
President and Vice-Chancellor

For and on behalf of the University of Sheffield
31 January 2023

A global reputation

Sheffield is a research university with a global reputation for excellence. We're a member of the Russell Group: one of the 24 leading UK universities for research and teaching.