Modern Slavery Statement

This statement is made pursuant to Section 54 of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 and constitutes our slavery and human trafficking statement for the financial year ending 31st July 2020.


Modern slavery is a crime and a violation of fundamental human rights. It takes various forms, such as slavery, servitude, forced and 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. This is now our third successive Annual Statement and we remain more committed than ever to improving our practices to combat slavery and human trafficking.

Our structure

The University of Plymouth is renowned for high quality, internationally leading education, research and innovation. We make a positive difference to people’s lives. With a truly global outlook, we are an inclusive and inspiring university community. The University Structure is an Independent Higher Education Corporation and an exempt charity under the terms of the Charities Act 2011, with the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) acting as the Principal Regulator. Our charitable objectives focus on the delivery of education and research. As a charity, the University must operate for public benefit.

Our policy on slavery and human trafficking

In order to achieve our Strategic Goals the University of Plymouth purchases a wide range of goods, services and works. In these situations, we are committed to ensuring that there is no modern slavery or human trafficking in our supply chains or in any part of our business.

Our supply chains

The University of Plymouth's supply chains are truly diverse, with over 2,200 suppliers supporting us to deliver high quality education and research. All our suppliers are commodity coded against Proc-HE Schema/taxonomy, which we use to identify those with the highest potential for Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking. 

These have been identified as;

  • Audio-Visual, IT & Multimedia Supplies
  • Catering Supplies & Services
  • Furniture, Furnishings & textiles
  • Janitorial & Domestic Supplies & Services
  • Professional & Bought-in Services including consultancy
  • Travel & Transport (incl. Vehicle hire & Subsistence)
  • Estates & Buildings.

What are we doing now

The University has a Tendering Policy which determines how purchases should be made when spending University funds.

The University of Plymouth actively engages with its purchasing consortia SUPC (Southern University Purchasing Consortia) to support the inclusion of ethical sustainability, incorporating checks against slavery and human trafficking as part of the collaborative procurement activity.

For in-house tendering or contracting our standard terms and conditions and supplier on-boarding processes ensure the potential for Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking are duly considered.

We raise awareness to all our staff by continually promoting information about Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking with support from the UK Modern Slavery Helpline and Resource Centre and have been doing so for over 12 months now. 

We will identify those supply chains that represent a medium to high risk of modern slavery, human trafficking, forced and bonded labour, and labour rights violations. This will be achieved by working with both suppliers and members of both regional and sector purchasing consortia, taking appropriate action if we become aware of such activity.

It is University policy that all new staff joining the University provide documentation to demonstrate their Right to Work within the UK before commencing employment. For those in higher risk areas, such as cleaning, this is asked for at interview stage.

In November 2018, the University signed up to and began deploying NETpositive Futures as a mechanism to further engagement of both contracted and non-contracted suppliers on the subject of Modern Slavery. Although in early stages, we are now also engaging Academic staff and Students to explore how we can bring NETpositive Futures into the curriculum with a joint focus on Modern Slavery and Sustainability.

In December 2018, the University’s Head of Procurement along with nine other Higher Education Institutes actively engaged with a PhD research project, which was looking at university modern slavery reporting. The conclusions shared from this project will be used to inform future Annual Statements. 

What are we going to do in the future

University of Plymouth expresses its commitment to the continuous review of the supply chains it uses, working towards greater transparency and awareness of the people working within them. This is a challenge that is best addressed through the ongoing and proactive engagement with both suppliers and the Higher Education Procurement Consortia sharing experiences and refining best practice.

We will review the conclusions from the aforementioned research project with a view to applying the feedback where it will enhance the existing approach being taken by the University. 

Since the last statement, the University’s Procurement function has aligned its structure against defined categories of spend. The associated Category Plans are designed to support the management of these categories of expenditure and will include an assessment of risk around the presence and/or likelihood of modern slavery occurring in the respective supply chains. These assessments will draw upon available knowledge and tools, including, but not limited to outputs from NETpositive Futures and sector collaboration.

Alastair Matthews
Chief Financial Officer