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Researchers are responsible for being aware of their responsibilities within an increasingly complex international and regulatory environment. There is a great deal of legislation linked to the area of Trusted Research and international research collaboration and it is important that both the University and individual researchers comply with relevant legislation.

Export Controls

All research activity in controlled areas, whether related to a formal partnership or not, must be compliant with applicable export control legislation. UK export controls are designed to restrict the export and communication of military and dual-use items.

The controls apply equally to the academic community as to any other exporter, and may touch on a range of areas of academic exchange that might enable technology transfer, physically, electronically and, in rare cases, verbally. Export control does not cover research which is already in the public domain however; many routine activities (such as international collaboration or presenting at international conferences) may be covered by the legislation if non-public dual-use or military research is to be shared.

Within partnerships, due consideration should be given to the nature of the project activity and envisaged outputs, especially regarding the potential for dual-use and unethical application of research. The University has webpages providing information, and is developing further guidance and additional resources in this area to support researchers. Further guidance is available from the Export Control Joint Unit.

General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

The Data Protection Act (DPA) 2018 sets out the framework for data protection law in the UK. It sits alongside the GDPR, and tailors how the GDPR applies in the UK. It is important to ensure that research data is protected in compliance with GDPR. The University has dedicated webpages relevant to the impact of GDPR on research activity, including detail of possible exemptions.

Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS)

The Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) applies to all international students and researchers (apart from exempt nationalities) who are subject to UK immigration control and are intending to study or research at postgraduate level in certain science/technology subject areas. Where applicable, ATAS clearance is a mandatory requirement prior to the individual undertaking study and/or research activity. Applications are assessed by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO). The University has developed a briefing note to explain the requirements for international research partners who might be affected by the scheme. Further information is available on government webpages.

Compliance with Local Legislation

If you are collaborating with an international partner there may be laws and regulations with which you will need to comply in your collaborator’s country. Be aware of any different legislative frameworks under which they operate, and how this might impact on partnership agreements.

Most countries will maintain some form of export control, research partners may be subject to laws which restrict their institution’s ability to share data or research outcomes, and the legal protections around IP may also differ in those jurisdictions.