Do you suspect irregularities at the university?
On 31 May, Vice-Chancellor Mats Tinnsten formally put into effect the new university policy document Procedure for managing suspected irregularities, including information on initiating these cases at the University of Borås.
As a government agency, the university must ensure that irregularities do not affect its operations and decisions. The purpose of this policy document is to clarify how to handle internally reported cases regarding suspected irregularities. The document also contains information on how to initiate such cases at the university. However, the procedure does not limit employees’ right to exercise their constitutionally protected whistleblower rights.
“What is meant by irregularities is undesirable behaviour and ways of acting by employees that risk undermining the public’s trust in the university’s reputation or activities. For example, it can means conflicts of interest in decision-making, corruption, or taking bribes. Actions that cause harm to the university's activities, such as theft and fraud, are also covered by the concept of irregularities,” explained Åsa Dryselius, Legal Expert at the university.
As the university is a government agency, it is important that suspicions of irregularities come to light and are dealt with.
"In the procedure, we have therefore clarified which methods employees can use to alert the university to suspected irregularities and we have also created a new webpage with a form for such reports.”
"It can be good to know that it is not legally possible to guarantee confidentiality protection to the same extent as in the case of whistleblower protection when it comes to the reporter or the subject of the report in the case of an internal report," concluded Åsa Dryselius.
Initial assessment of a case
When a report is received, the Head of Professional Services determines whether it is covered by the procedure. If it does not, the report is rejected or forwarded it to another responsible function for processing.
The following cases are handled according to other procedures:
- Cases of suspected discrimination, harassment, victimisation or negative impact on the study environment (Reg. no. 162-18)
- Cases of suspected research misconduct and any breaches of good research practice other than misconduct (Reg. no. 911-20)
- Disciplinary measures against students (Chapter 10 of Sweden’s Higher Education Ordinance)
Under Chapter 1, Section 1, of Sweden's Freedom of the Press Act and Chapter 1, Section 2, of Sweden's Fundamental Law on Freedom of Expression, an individual has a constitutional right to freely provide information verbally on any subject for publication in print or other media without risk of prosecution, punishment or liability for damages except for certain information that is excluded from the freedom to publish information under Sweden's Public Access to Information and Secrecy Act (such as information subject to qualified professional confidentiality).
This also applies to employees at a government agency. Anyone who provides information under the freedom to publish information is protected from the employer intervening or taking any reprisals against them. This is known as whistleblower protection.
Anyone who provides information to the media under this freedom to publish information is also entitled to be anonymous if they so wish. It is generally prohibited for a government agency to investigate who provided information to the media based on the freedom to publish information. Nor may a government agency subject a person exercising this freedom to reprisals if the information is known for other reasons.
Johanna Avadahl / Translation: Eva Medin