Slavery and Human Trafficking Statement

This is the seventh statement that the University of Portsmouth (“the University”) has made pursuant to the requirements of the Modern Slavery Act 2015. The University remains fully committed to tackling human trafficking in its supply chains and in all other areas of our activity. In this statement we will provide an update on the actions we committed to achieve in our previous annual statement and, reflecting on our previous activity in this area, we will set out the progress that the University plans to take over the coming twelve months to ensure, as far as possible, that slavery and human trafficking are not taking place in any part of our organisation or our supply chains.


The University’s Structure

The core business of the University is teaching, research and innovation, undertaken by five academic faculties, comprising of their own schools and departments, which are supported by a range of professional services departments.

The University’s Board of Governors is responsible for determining the educational character of the University, the mission of the University and for the oversight of its activities. The Board of Governors conducts its work through a number of committees. The University Executive Board is the senior executive decision-making body of the University, it is chaired by the Vice Chancellor and its membership includes the Executive Deans of each of the University’s five faculties, the Deputy Vice Chancellor and Chief Operating Officer, the Senior Deputy Vice Chancellor, the Deputy Vice Chancellors, the Executive Directors of Finance and Corporate Governance, and the Chief People Officer.

The University has approximately 3,500 staff and 29,000 students (this is the total student headcount inclusive of distance learning students and those students registered with collaborative partners). The University is supported by a centralised procurement and contracting function located within the Finance Department with transactional purchasing devolved to individual faculties and professional services departments.

Procurement in the University of Portsmouth

As a public body the University complies with the Public Contracts Regulations 2015, and currently manages an external spend of approximately £110 million per annum. The diverse nature of the requirements involves dealing with a large number of suppliers, their sub- contractors and their supply chains.

The University’s supplier base ranges from cutting-edge scientific/engineering equipment and materials required for the delivery of teaching, research and innovation to the goods and services necessary to support the operation of a successful University. Modern slavery is considered as part of each category or project strategy where appropriate in terms of likelihood of incidence, and any relevant mitigating actions required are identified. An overview of the University’s spend categories is provided below:


Category Spend


The University conducts a large proportion of its spend via higher education purchasing consortia, the benefit in doing so is that suppliers accessed via these frameworks are subjected by the framework provider to scrutiny of modern slavery policies and practices in order to be included. In particular the University procures via the Southern Universities Purchasing Consortium (SUPC) and the London Universities Purchasing Consortium (LUPC). Through LUPC the University has access to the services of Electronics Watch which works to protect the rights of electronics workers globally.

NetPositive Framework Overall


The Procurement Manager is a member of the both the SUPC/LUPC and HEPA Responsible Procurement Groups, which deal with social and environmental aspects of supply chain management, including moving forward with the modern slavery agenda. She is also a member of the University’s Sustainability Strategic Delivery Group (“SSDG”) set up to deliver against the University’s strategic priorities.

Update on Activities

The table below provides an update on activity in relation to the targets set in last year’s Modern Slavery Statement:

Target Update
To fully embed the Net Positives Future tool within our procurement processes and to produce meaningful data on supplier engagement with the tool to develop robust approaches to tackling modern slavery. With this data we will identify key risk suppliers and work on supplier action plans as appropriate.

An assessment of current University suppliers against those already using the Net Positive Futures tool was carried out and a targeted list of key University suppliers who did not use the tool was created. Correspondence was sent to these suppliers to invite and encourage them to make use of the tool, which is free for suppliers to access and makes their credentials visible to a wide pool of public sector buyers.

In addition, those suppliers who were identified as potentially high risk were identified and a desk top assessment of their modern slavery statements was conducted to help provide as comprehensive a picture as possible.

To conduct an audit of teaching and research that the University carries out to explore modern slavery in procurement and to establish whether there are any synergies to be exploited between this and our own procurement activities.

A wide range of areas of teaching and research in the subject of modern slavery and human trafficking were identified within the University.

In the Business School, modules are taught that refer to issues of modern slavery - Leadership, Ethics, Governance and Sustainability and Responsible and Sustainable Business.

In Humanities and Social Science, modern slavery is a key aspect of a number of post graduate courses with some students completing PhDs on the subject.

Prof Tamsin Bradley works on gender and vulnerability to modern slavery - including projects for the Department for International Development evaluating the Global Fund to End Modern Slavery.

Prof Leila Choukroune, Theme Director for Democratic Citizenship, works on issues of human rights and modern slavery.

Professors Bradley and Choukroune have jointly coordinated a Global Challenges Research Fund funded project 'Modern Slavery in the Garment and Textile Supply Chain’.

The University is a member of the Principles for Responsible Management Education which is a United Nations-supported initiative founded in 2007 as a platform to raise the profile of sustainability in schools around the world. This is coordinated by Professor Diego Vazquez Brust who also has written a number of articles where modern slavery is discussed: One related to the UK construction industry and UN sustainable development goals, the second related to women in the artisanal mining sector in Ghana, the third related to circular economy and social inclusion in Brazil and Africa.

We endeavour to learn from our academic research and seek ways to apply this knowledge for the betterment of our supply choices.

To look at ways in which the modern slavery statement and our reporting in this area can be presented in a more accessible and engaging format.

Drawing on our review of statements issued by other universities last year we have included more information in graphical format in this year’s statement. We have also engaged with our Marketing team to ensure that the
document aligns with our brand guidelines.

Produce a Responsible Procurement Policy which will cover both social and environmental aspects of the University’s supply chain activity, and will be supported by an action plan. Modern slavery will be an important theme within the strategy. The draft Responsible Procurement Policy was presented to the SSDG in April 2022. Since then the SSDG has started to develop a climate positive plan which will be submitted to the University Executive Board in due course, and which contains a significant procurement element, so the Responsible Procurement policy is being delayed to align with the climate positive plan.


Activities for the Next 12 months

Drawing on learning from last year’s activities as outlined above, the University commits to completion of the following targets in advance of publication of the next annual modern slavery statement:

  • Investigate how the University's investment strategy supports its modern slavery and human trafficking aims.
  • Provide examples of where the University’s teaching and research in the field of modern slavery has impacted our procurement practices and vice-versa.
  • Develop the output from the Net Positive Futures tool to identify specific areas of the supply chain where the university may be exposed to modern slavery practices and demonstrate where the tool has aided University decision making.
  • Develop the University’s work on mitigating the modern slavery and human trafficking risks in the electronics sector, which has been identified as a key risk sector for the University.

This statement is made pursuant to section 54(1) of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 and constitutes the University’s slavery and human trafficking statement for the financial year ending 31 July 2022.