Business / Ethics In High Education
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Autor: filadendron 03 January 2012
Words: 1650 | Pages: 7
Table of Contents
Ethics and ethics in high education 3
The ethics of two universities 4
Development and implementation of ethical policy 4
An ethical policy for Faculty of Economics 5
Why has ethics become so important issue not only in individuals life but also in business and all other subjects and institutions that surround us? Why does any institution need an ethical policy? What are the consequences of not having an ethical policy? How can an institution develop and implement an ethical policy framework? And why does a high education institution need an ethical policy? These are all questions that I will try to answer trough this paper and trough research of ethical policies of two Universities – University of Zagreb (with reference to Faculty of Economics) and Leeds Metropolitan University. Since the universities have different historical background and have developed in different cultural and political circumstances, it will be interesting whether due to those facts different ethics apply.
At the end of this paper I will write my own suggestion of how should an ethical policy of Faculty of Economics look like.
Ethics and ethics in high education
The Oxford dictionary defines ethics as "the moral principles governing or influencing conduct" and "the branch of knowledge concerned with moral principles" .
Ethics is in all dimensions of institution's operations and it applies to the conduct of individuals and also to whole organisation. We could say that ethics is about how an institution behave. Some institution publish an institution-wide ethical policy framework because it can provide and encourage consistency of behaviour, it can demonstrate commitment of institution to ethics and it also can explain institution ethical stance to shareholders and show guidance in behaviour. But only publishing is not nearly enough as we will see by the end of this paper.
In conducting this small research I couldn't find any difference in business subjects on the market and high education institution regarding need of ethical policy, there might be only different ethical issues involved. In my opinion high education institution should be leaders in ethical behaviour and should set an example to other business subjects on the market on how to develop, implement and use ethical policies.
If looking at the high education institutions only, a lot of operations have ethical dimensions – teaching, research, relationships, admissions, copyright etc. There are two of the principles aims of higher education:
"To increase knowledge and understanding for their own sake and to foster their application to the benefit of the economy and society" and
" To play a major role in shaping a democratic, civilised, inclusive society."
High ethical standards are seen in aims and values of most high education institutions, but that doesn't meat there is no need for an ethical policy. Ethical issues arise in range of situations such are:
Treatment of employees, students or other stakeholders
Conflict interests in funding sources, donations, accepting gifts
Upholding academic freedom
Some of the institutions have not published their ethical policy, code or statement, some of them have range of documents addressing different ethical issues and some of them have ethical policy that are not published publicly but it exists internally in the institution. These are all circumstances that made this research more difficult. Some argue that publishing an ethical policy is unnecessary and that the ethical policy will not change the behaviour or ensure ethical behaviour. I couldn't agree less but I agree that only publishing of it won't ensure ethical behaviour - it has to be implemented, trained and monitored and that will ensure the effectiveness.
The ethics of two universities
While searching for any kind of ethical policy or documents containing ethical issues on the website of University of Zagreb and on the website of Faculty of Economics, I surprisingly didn't find much information. I did check the Statute of the Faculty of Economics but the result was only set of rules and not ethical policies.
Searching the Leeds Metropolitan University website gave more results but still not as much as I would expect. There is no published ethical policy as a document on the website. Maybe it exists as a part of staff handbook or part of several different documents. Looking trough Leeds Metropolitan University Corporate Plan I ran across aims and values of LMU, and in my opinion, alongside mission and values should be at least one sentence that refer to ethical behavior and existence of the ethical policy. But on LMU website I found ethical weekly columns where are weekly posted concerns about different ethical issues that arise. Seeing that, I conclude that LMU probably has an ethical policy that is not published on their website due to the fact that LMU staff are encouraged to speak up about ethical problems as they arise trough website. This is a valuable channel to train and educate shareholders about ethics, and dealing with ethical dilemmas. Since it is published weekly, it shows that LMU is concerned and pays attention to ethics, that ethics is already a part of stakeholders behavior and that institution often revises and measures effectiveness of their policies.
University of Zagreb and Faculty of Economic should develop and implement an ethical policy.
Development and implementation of ethical policy
Since University of Zagreb and Faculty of Economics don't have an ethical policy or a similar document they should develop and implement one. Writing and publishing document is not nearly enough as was previously said.
While developing an ethical policy document several things should be taken into consideration:
Leadership – for policy to be effective it should be endorsed by a chairman of the institution or a governing body
Allocation of time and resources – for development of an efficient ethical policy should be allocated all necessary time and resources
Values – an institution's mission, aims and values are foundation for development and ethical policy
Stakeholders – involvement of the stakeholders is important while identifying ethical issues
Since just developing and publishing is not enough for ensuring ethical behaviour, the developed policy should be implemented trough:
Ethics committee – or a similar body or a person
Publication and distribution – website, handbook, booklet and it should be available to all institutional shareholders
Training – meetings, groups , programmes
Measurement – surveys, KPI's
Encouragement – as LMU is doing to encourage his staff to speak up about ethical issues
Review – new ethical issues arise over time, and policy should reflect the reality of institutional behaviour, reviewing every few years.
Development and implementation while taking into consideration listed details gives us a good baseline to have an ethical behaviour as "must".
An ethical policy for Faculty of Economics
While developing and implementing a new ethical policy, all details listed in previously should be involved. That means that all shareholders should be involved, and that enough resources is allocated and that it is all under the auspices of a leading person or body. Also, while implementing, beside the publishing and distribution of the document there should be a good training trough workshops or just meeting, and also a feedback trough measurement via surveys and every few years should policy be reviewed.
Since I didn't involve any stakeholders in developing of this policy, even though I am considered to be a stakeholder as a student, the issues are of my individual beliefs.
Code of ethics for Faculty of Economics:
Members of the Faculty should strive to achieve high professional and ethical standards.
Discrimination and fairness
This principle requires that people are fairly treated and not discriminated against, abused or exploited.
Respect for Others
This principle requires that people are treated as individuals with rights that are to be honoured.
People have a primary moral obligation to do good and not to do harm to others.
The Faculty recognises and protects the concept and practice of academic freedom as essential to the proper conduct of teaching and research.
Acceptance of Gifts or Benefits
It is unethical for staff of the Faculty to solicit any gifts or benefits for themselves, or to accept gifts or benefits which might in any way compromise or influence them in carrying out their duties, or which might reasonably be seen by others as an inducement which places a staff member under an obligation.
Close Personal Relationships
Staff members should avoid situations requiring them to supervise or assess a student or a staff member who is a member of their family or with whom they have, or have had, a personal or other significant relationship. Any emotive or sexual relationship between staff member and a student is forbidden.
Conflict of Interest
Members of Faculty have obligation to avoid conflict between their private interests and their obligations to the Faculty.
Confidentiality of Information
Members of the Faculty are required to respect individuals' rights to privacy and undertake to treat in confidence all information supplied to them on that basis.
The Faculty strives to provide an environment which is free from all forms of harassment. Members of the Faculty are obligated to treat each other with respect, and to avoid any form of harassment based on the grounds of sex, race, age, marital status, physical or intellectual ability, sexual preference, political conviction or religious belief.
The Faculty will provide equitable returns to staff or students who are the originators of intellectual property exploited by the Faculty for commercial purposes.
The Faculty expects all those engaged in research to observe high ethical standards in the conduct of that research.
High education institutions should be leaders in ethical behaviour and should set standards to society and its members. Writing an code of ethics is not nearly enough to encourage ethical behaviour – implementing of it is the most important thing and that will give base to students and encourage them to transfer ethical behaviour to business after leaving school.
1. Compact Oxford English Dictionary website, December 2006, http://www.askoxford.com/
2. Faculty of Economics website, December 2006, http://www.efzg.hr/
3. Leeds Metropolitan University website, December 2006, http://www.lmu.ac.uk/
4. Murdoch University website, December 2006, http://www.murdoch.edu.au/
5. The council for Industry and higher education website, December 2006, http://www.cihe-uk.com/ethics.php
6. University of Zagreb website, December 2006, http://www.unizg.hr/naslovnica/
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