Can insurers help bring about accountability in universities?
Universities are very unlikely to declare the full extent of their risk of wrongdoing and the extent of their actual wrongdoing to their insurers. Help us make universities better for all by ensuring insurance companies are fully aware of these wrongdoings and risks. We are asking you to contact university insurers and share with them your stories and experiences of wrongdoing, mismanagement and legal breaches so that we can ensure universities are made accountable and conditions for staff and students improve. In addition, we are using this opportunity to bring university stories to the attention of the media to increase public pressure to introduce accountability to universities.
How can sharing information about wrongdoing, mismanagement and legal breaches help introduce accountability in universities?
Universities are mismanaged in many ways and toxicity and wrongdoing are rife within universities because of lack of accountability. Universities are insured against risk of litigation from staff and students on a variety of grounds and against mismanagement by senior management – in general – they are required to declare “fair presentation of the risk” to their insurers. There is a growing body of evidence indicating that universities do not fully declare the information that they should declare to their insurers.
Insurers are likely to be interested in information on mismanagement and wrongdoing of universities because they use this information to assess the risk that a university will claim on the insurance: the greater the risk, the higher the insurance premium that insurers charge.
It is entirely normal for members of the public to inform insurers of wrongs committed by the insured: they often encourage members of the public to report insurance fraud (including anonymously). Although the information we are reporting is unlikely to constitute fraud, like fraud-related information, our information helps insurers decide whether they should investigate those who have taken out insurance and what further steps they may want to take.
If insurers start to make enquiries with universities, it is likely that they will find unacceptably high levels of risk. In addition to informing insurers, these problems need to be brought to public attention and addressed with transparency. The students and staff community, as well as the public, can then pressure universities for governance reforms with greater accountability and transparency, including external, independent, rigorous accountability in universities.
If insurers start to make enquiries with universities, it is likely that they will find unacceptably high levels of risk. Examples of actions insurers can take include: starting an investigation of the university; requiring that the university introduce safeguards and procedures to minimise its risk of wrongdoing; before insurers agree to insure the organisation, they can require that the organisation has an audit of its procedures done by independent third parties to ensure that it adopts and maintains fair procedures.
This will help restore universities to their original purpose of learning and research centres where everyone – regardless of who they are – feel welcome and are able to develop to their fullest potential. It is also important for the public and for researchers to be able to trust the research produced by universities and for funders to be sure that their funding is being well spent within ethical teaching and research environments.
What can you do to help?
You could write (even anonymously) to universities’ insurers with information about wrongdoing, mismanagement and legal breaches. This information can relate to:
- Any wrongdoing: discrimination, bullying, sexual misconduct etc
- Poor quality teaching/supervision
- Lack/poor student support
- Poor facilities such as accommodation
- Poor competence of university employees or those they hire
- Research misconduct
- Breaches of the law
- Complaint procedures
- Complaints/problems not being recorded properly or at all
- Dismissal/employment procedures
- Policies/procedures not being followed
- Poor HR practices
- Financial mismanagement
- Mismanagement of any kind
- Reputational risk
- Anything else that you think universities have done wrong
Who can share this information?
Anyone: current or former students, academic or non-academic staff, their families and friends, universities’ contractors or suppliers and anyone who knows of or has witnessed any wrongdoing, mismanagement or breaches.
Is any information too old to share?
No, all information – however old – can be useful for insurers to determine risk in universities.
What are the next steps?
If you have any information about wrongdoing, legal breaches or mismanagement in university, please consider writing to the university’s insurers informing them of what you know or asking them for any further steps you can take to share that information with them. You can share the information anonymously. If you would like clarity as to how the insurer is going to use the information you provide, please get in touch with them and agree this directly with them.
The table below includes the information that universities have provided in response to Freedom of Information requests:
- The universities are in alphabetical order.
- Their insurers for complaints by students are in the “Students’ Complaints” column.
- The “Staff’s Complaints / Mismanagement Complaints” column lists insurers for:
- staff’s complaints, such as discrimination experienced by staff
- and for management-related complaints, such as financial mismanagement or malpractice by university management.
- Please consider sharing the information with all the insurers that a university uses from both columns even if your information relates to students’ complaint or staff’s complaints. This is because information that relates to students can also be relevant for staff or for mismanagement issues and – if the university has not shared it with one insurer – they are unlikely to have shared it with their other insurers.
- Please find the relevant university and their insurers in the table and you’ll find an email address for each insurer by CLICKING ON THIS LINK and entering the name of the university that you’re considering sharing information about. Once you click “submit” you will see a list of email addresses on your screen. We cannot see who you are and are not collecting any personal or identifiable data about you: we are just collecting the names of the universities people are interested in for statistical purposes.
- If you have information about the issues not covered by the “students’ complaints” and “staff’s complaints / management’s complaints” categories, such as information about crimes committed in the university, please get in touch and we will give you the names of further insurance provider for each university.
Would you like to share your story with the media?
If you would like to share your story (including anonymously) with a journalist, please get in touch or check out a list of journalists here.
If you are a journalist and would like to cover university stories, please get in touch and we will help you look for sources or pair you with people wanting to share their stories. There is a lot more to universities and insurance than explained here, so please get in touch if you are interested. There are also many other stories on universities that will be of interest to anyone caring about social justice, education and public money.
- Do Better Academia has no relationship with any insurers: we are not gaining or profiting from anyone contacting them: we are just trying to make universities more accountable.
- We won’t find out who said what to which insurers.
- We do not have any influence or control over insurers or how they use the information you provide and cannot take any responsibility for insurers’ actions.
- The information in the table below and on this site is accurate to the best of our knowledge and the information in the table was acquired via research and under the Freedom of Information scheme.
- We cannot see who uses this page or the insurers’ emails form and are not collecting any personal or identifiable data about our website users.
- The universities’ insurers form only collects the information entered in the form by users.
|Aberdeen||AIG||AIG||Newline (Medical malpractice is MPLC)|
|Aberystwyth||UMAL1 & QBE|
|Bangor||UMAL1||UMAL1||UMAL1, incl Medical Negligence|
|Bedfordshire||Didn't respond to FOI||Didn't respond to FOI||Didn't respond to FOI|
|Queen's University Belfast||UMAL1||UMAL1||UMAL1|
|Birkbeck College||RSA and Markel||RSA and Markel||Newline, incl Medical Malpractice|
|The Arts University Bournemouth||AXA||AXA|
|Bradford||Zurich Municipal and Chubb||Zurich Municipal and Chubb|
|Brighton||RSA and Zurich Municipal||RSA and Zurich Municipal||Newline|
|Buckinghamshire New University||Zurich Municipal||Zurich Municipal|
|Cambridge Colleges3||Hiscox, Ecclesiastical and AVIVA||Hiscox, Ecclesiastical and AVIVA|
|Canterbury Christ Church||RSA||RSA|
|Cardiff Metropolitan||UMAL1||UMAL1 and DAS||UMAL1 and QBE|
|Central Lancashire||RSA||XL Catlin, RSA, Nexus Underwriting, HDI||Newline, incl Medical Malpractice|
|Chichester||UMAL1 and DAS||UMAL1 and DAS|
|City, University of London||RSA and AXIS||RSA and Nexus||Newline, incl Medical Malpractice|
|Coventry||RSA & DAS||RSA & DAS||CNA Hardy LTD, incl Medical Malpractice|
|Cranfield||Hiscox and Lloyds||Chubb|
|University for the Creative Arts||RSA and DAS||RSA and DAS|
|De Montfort||RSA||RSA||Newline, incl Medical Malpractice|
|Dundee||Zurich Municipal and UMAL1||Zurich Municipal and UMAL1|
|East Anglia||UMAL1 and CNA||UMAL1 and QBE||UMAL1 and QBE|
|East London||RSA||RSA||Newline, incl Medical Malpractice|
|Edge Hill||Markel||Markel||Newline, incl Medical Malpractice|
|Edinburgh||RSA||XL Catlin||Newline and AXIS|
|Glasgow||RSA||Chubb||Newline, incl Medical Malpractice|
|Glyndŵr||Markel and UMAL1||AXA and Markel||UMAL1|
|Goldsmiths College||Didn't respond to FOI||Didn't respond to FOI||Didn't respond to FOI|
|Hartpury||QBE||AXA||CNA Hardy Ltd|
|Heriot-Watt||Zurich Municipal||Zurich Municipal|
|Highlands and Islands||Aviva||Aviva|
|Hull||Zurich Municipal and RSA||Zurich Municipal and RSA||Corvelia|
|Imperial College||RSA||RSA||Newline, incl Medical Malpractice|
|Keele||RSA||RSA||Newline, incl Medical Malpractice|
|Kent||Didn't respond to FOI||Didn't respond to FOI||Didn't respond to FOI|
|King's College London||RSA||RSA||Newline|
|The University of Lancaster||Zurich Municipal||Zurich Municipal|
|Leeds||RSA||RSA||Newline (Medical Malpractice is Beazley Solutions)|
|Leicester||Newline||Nexus||Newline, incl Medical Malpractice|
|Lincoln||QBE, Markel and DAS||QBE, Markel and DAS|
|Liverpool Hope||Makel||Newline, incl Medical Malpractice|
|Liverpool John Moores||Refused||Refused||Refused|
|London||RSA and Markel||RSA and Markel|
|University of the Arts, London||UMAL1||UMAL1|
|London Metropolitan||Didn't respond to FOI||Didn't respond to FOI||Didn't respond to FOI|
|London South Bank||RSA||RSA||Newline, incl Medical Malpractice|
|London School of Economics||RSA, AXIS, QBE, Hiscox and Markel||RSA|
|London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine||Newline||Chubb||Newline, incl Medical Malpractice|
|Loughborough||UMAL1||UMAL1 and QBE||UMAL1 and QBE|
|Manchester Metropolitan||Newline||Chubb and AIG||Newline, incl Medical Malpractice|
|Manchester||Newline||RSA, Nexus and Markel|
|Middlesex||Didn't respond to FOI||Didn't respond to FOI||Didn't respond to FOI|
|Newcastle||Zurich Municipal and RSA||Zurich Municipal and RSA||Newline, incl Medical Malpractice|
|Northumbria||UMAL1 and QBE||UMAL1 and QBE||UMAL1 and QBE|
|Open University||Markel||AIG||Newline, incl Medical Malpractice|
|Oxford Colleges4||Hiscox, Ecclesiastical and AVIVA||Hiscox, Ecclesiastical and AVIVA|
|Queen Margaret, Edinburgh||UMAL1||UMAL1|
|Queen Mary, London||RSA||RSA||Newline|
|Reading||RSA||RSA||Newline, incl Medical Malpractice|
|Roehampton||Zurich Municipal and RSA||Zurich Municipal and RSA||Newline, incl Medical Malpractice|
|Royal College of Art||Didn't respond to FOI||Didn't respond to FOI||Didn't respond to FOI|
|Royal Veterinary College||RSA||RSA||RSA|
|St George's, London||UMAL1||UMAL1||UMAL1, incl Medical Malpractice|
|St Mary's University College||QBE, Chubb, AIG and Allianz||QBE, Chubb, AIG and Allianz|
|St Mary's University, Twickenham||UMAL1||UMAL1|
|SOAS, London||RSA||RSA||Newline, incl Medical Malpractice|
|Sheffield||RSA||Chubb||Newline, incl Medical Malpractice|
|Solent||RSA||RSA||Newline, incl Medical Malpractice|
|Southampton||Lloyds||RSA||Lloyds, incl Medical Malpractice|
|Stirling||AIG and Tokio Marine HCC||AIG|
|Sunderland||Zurich Municipal||Zurich Municipal|
|Surrey||RSA||RSA||Newline, incl Medical Malpractice|
|Sussex||Zurich Municipal||Zurich Municipal||Newline, incl Medical Malpractice|
|Swansea||UMAL1||UMAL1||UMAL1, incl Medical Malpractice|
|University of Wales Trinity Saint David||UMAL1||UMAL1|
|University College London||RSA||RSA|
|University of the West of England, Bristol||Refused||Refused||Refused|
|University of the West of Scotland||RSA and Zurich Municipal||RSA and Zurich Municipal|
|University of West London||Refused||Refused||Refused|
|Westminster||RSA||RSA||Newline, incl Medical Malpractice|
|Wolverhampton||RSA and Zurich Municipal||RSA and Zurich Municipal||Newline, incl Medical Malpractice|
|Worcester||RSA and DAS||RSA and DAS||Beazley is Medical Malpractice|
|York St John||Refused||Refused||Refused|
|York||RSA||Chubb||Newline (Medical Malpractice is AXIS)|
1 The insurer in the table below “UMAL” (Universities Mutual Association Limited) is a mutual organisation that is controlled by their member institutions, which include the universities that use UMAL. 5 out of 9 UMAL’s directors are universities’ own finance or legal officers (see here). You are – of course – free to write to UMAL with any information you have, however they are most unlikely to be impartial. An alternative would be to let the insurance regulators know that you believe that UMAL’s members are under-declaring their risk, thereby putting its financial viability and stability at risk. UMAL is overseen by the FCA (Financial Conduct Authority). UMAL is listed as U M Association Ltd (ref no 417806) in the FCA’s Financial Services Register.
2 Oxford and Cambridge colleges: please copy in the colleges’ own insurers, too, if the information you are providing relates to an individual who is a member of a college in any capacity