Oxford's oldest student newspaper

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Gagging clauses: Oxford used “more than one a week” last year

The University ranks highly against other British higher education institutions in its use of so-called "gagging" clauses

Oxford used 68 non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) in 2017-18, according to data obtained by The Times under the Freedom of Information Act.

Warwick University used the most out of any other Russell Group institution in this period (339), followed by Exeter at 159. Both these universities reportedly said that their NDAs referred to confidentiality clauses in “research-related commercial agreements with companies.”

The news comes after an investigation by the BBC last week alleged that NDAs, also known as “gagging” clauses, were used by higher education institutions to stop accusations of “bullying, discrimination, and sexual misconduct” being made public.

Speaking to The Times, a music professor at the University of Liverpool stated that “she felt like she was treated as a “burden” and “bullied out” of her ten-year job after being diagnosed with cancer.”

MPs have allegedly criticised the widespread use of NDAs, alleging that they can be used for legitimate commercial reasons, but also to hide details of “sexual harassment or bullying.”

Oxford University told Cherwell: “The University does not keep a record of the number of settlements or agreements which contained confidentiality or non-disclosure clauses, and this information could only be determined by examining each agreement individually, which just isn’t feasible within a weekend / bank holiday timeframe.”

Support student journalism

Student journalism does not come cheap. Now, more than ever, we need your support.

Check out our other content

Most Popular Articles