In its report the Executive Board wrote, “It is clear that important lessons can be learned and additional concrete actions need to be taken to further strengthen independence and academic integrity at RSM.”
Read more about the investigation on RSM's relationship with corporate sector
Integrity risks at RSM, but no direct influence from industry on education and research
An independent committee investigated the ties between RSM and industry. They identify…
Reluctance to bring up integrity issues
One of the important recommendations made by the committee investigating the links between the corporate sector and RSM involves a cultural shift in the organisation. In meetings with faculty employees, the committee found that members of staff were reluctant to speak up about academic integrity issues due to the ‘relatively autonomous position of – in particular senior – professors’. This is the same conclusion already reached by PwC in another integrity issue in 2013.
Following on from the investigative committee, the Executive Board stated that ‘a culture in which there is transparency and debate regarding conduct related to academic integrity is a better guarantee for upholding academic integrity than once again developing or overhauling even more new regulations’. Consequently, Dean Steef van de Velde will report on the progress of this cultural shift and prepare a plan of action to realise improvements that are still needed.
Another problem encountered by the independent investigative committee was that scholars don’t always register their ancillary activities, even though this is mandatory. This is why the Executive Board wants RSM and other faculties to review their registration of these activities to ensure everything is in order. From now on, scholars must also disclose consultancy work and teaching activities in the university’s commercial branch in the ancillary activities register.
During its investigation the committee also came across numerous contracts with non-disclosure clauses stipulating that, for example, company-sensitive information may not be published within a specified term, or not published at all. This type of agreement setting out that information may never be published is unacceptable from the committee’s point of view. As a result RSM must review all contracts between the faculty and private parties for non-disclosure clauses and, where needed, discuss these terms with the companies involved. New contracts will not be permitted to contain stipulations prohibiting the publication of information.
It had been announced earlier that RSM had plans to establish a public register with all of its private sector ties. This register with all contracts between the faculty and businesses is now complete and will be published once the screening of the non-disclosure contracts has been carried out. Contracts that potentially could allow companies to influence education will be amended. The use of corporate logos in educational materials in exchange for sponsoring is also no longer permitted. Faculties will also have to ensure there are no breaches of privacy legislation when students’ personal data is provided for recruitment activities.
New code of conduct
A new code of conduct for Academic Integrity will be introduced soon at all universities. Based on the code of conduct, the Executive Board, in accordance with one of the recommendations in the investigative report, wants to discuss the role of integrity in education with other universities. Additionally, a plan of action has been prepared to ‘intensify’ the focus on academic integrity when the new code of conduct is introduced. Once again, the Executive Board emphasises that the university’s commercial activities are also subject to the regulations governing academic integrity.
Dean Steef van de Velde will present a progress report to the Executive Board on 1 January 2019.