Student IP

Ownership - students

Unlike staff, the general principle is that students who are not employed by the University will own any IP they create in the course of their studies or research activities.

However, there can be a number of exceptions to this general principle where the University will need to control and/or protect the IP developed by a student and in such situations, the student will be required to assign their rights in the IP to the University. For example:

  • the student has a sponsored studentship under which the sponsor has a claim on the IP arising as part of the terms of the sponsorship;
  • the student participates in a research project where any arising IP is to be owned by a third party or the University is required to commit to licensing or exploitation of such IP;
  • the student generates IP using the University’s facilities and/or resources and it has been agreed by the University that those facilities and resources can be used only on condition that the University owns the IP arising; or
  • the student generates IP jointly with an employed member of University staff working in the course of his or her employment.

This list above is illustrative and specific circumstances will need to be examined on a case-by-case basis. If any of the above exceptions apply, the University will discuss the IP position with the student concerned to ensure a mutually acceptable agreement is reached. 

Sponsored students and research projects

Where a student is being sponsored by a third party or is carrying out work on a project involving third parties, the student may be required to assign any IP Rights to the University or to the sponsoring body in accordance with the specific terms and conditions which apply to the sponsor or research project. The same requirements may apply if the student is working in an area where the University has valuable IP and/or where arrangements are in place with commercial companies in relation to the results of funded research.

Where necessary, students will be asked to enter into written arrangements to confirm the assignment of IP to the University (in the form of a deed of assignment or a studentship or research agreement). Where a student is unwilling or unable to assign their rights in the IP to the University, they shall not be prevented from registering (unless it is a precondition to receiving funding for payment of their tuition fees that they assign such rights to the University). However, refusing to assign may result in the student being re-assigned to another project or activity with immediate effect to ensure that the University is in compliance with its contractual commitments.

A student who has agreed to assign their Intellectual Property to the University will normally be treated for ownership and reward purposes as though they are employees of the University.

For the avoidance of doubt, students who are also employees of the University, or staff registered for a degree or following a course of study, shall be treated as employed staff for the purpose of this policy.