Ethical review underpins decisions involving the use of animals in research and teaching. It provides a framework for deciding whether animal use can be justified, taking into account animal welfare, scientific and ethical issues. At the University, we are committed to using ethical review for all animals, not just those that are regulated under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 Amendment Regulations 2012. Our position reflects contemporary good practice as set out in Responsibility for the use of animals in bioscience research.

University committees for animal research

There are two ethical review committees approve and provide oversight of the use of animals in research and teaching at the University. 

In accordance with our legal obligations under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 as amended by the European directive 2010/63/EU, the Animal Welfare and Ethical Review Body (AWERB) is mandated to carry out ethical review of activities performed under ASPA.  Whereas, a sub-committee of the AWERB, termed the NASPA (non-ASPA) committee bears responsibility for providing review of activities that fall outside of ASPA.  

Animal Welfare and Ethical Review Body (AWERB)

The Animal Welfare and Ethical Review Body (AWERB) reviews applications for the use of protected animals in scientific procedures for the purposes of research. Protected animals include all living vertebrates, amphibians, reptiles and birds.  A scientific procedure refers to any act that may casue an animal a level of pain, suffering or distress equivalent to or greater than the introduction of a hypodermic needle.

The AWERB oversees the University's use of animals and encourages high standards of animal welfare, creating a culture of care, discussing ways in which the 3Rs can be actively implemented and by sharing experience and best practice.

The core responsibilities of the AWERB are as follows:

  • Advise staff and researchers on matters relating to the welfare of the animals in relation to their acquisition, accommodation, care and use
  • Advise on the application and implementation of the 3R’s
  • Ethical evaluation of all projects involving animals by considering the harms and benefits of the research before submission to the Home Office
  • Establishing and reviewing processes for monitoring, training and reporting
  • Retrospective reviews of research projects carried out in the University where the effects on the animals is taken into account
  • Reviews on the progress and outcomes of ongoing projects and whether there are further opportunities to implement the 3R’s
  • Advise on re-homing schemes

You can find the minutes from our last 6 meetings below. Minutes from meeting prior to this may be available upon request.

Legislative requirements under ASPA 1986 Home Office licensing

In the UK, the use of animals in research is regulated by the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 (ASPA), which was amended in 2012 to include the requirements of European Directive 2010/63/EU. The amended Act came into force on January 1st 2013 and guidance on the operation of ASPA was published in March 2014. This guidance and the Code of Practice that accompanies it explain how the Act is administered and gives detailed information related to the housing and care of animals used for research. 

Three licences issued by the Secretary of State (Home Office) are required by ASPA to carry out animal research:

  1. An establishment license for the place at which the work is carried out
  2. A project license for each individual research project which should outline what work is to be done and why animals are required for it
  3. A personal license for each researcher that outlines the techniques and procedures that can be performed on the animals


Named persons

The animal facilities at the University of Surrey are staffed by a team of dedicated animal technicians. These animal technicians are trained in correct handling methods, animal husbandry and in identifying signs of pain, distress and disease in the animals. Animals housed within the facility are checked at least once daily by the animal technicians and, along with the licence holders, they are responsible for the care and welfare of laboratory animals and their environments.  

All staff and researchers who work with animals receive rigorous training, there competencies are assessed and reviewed on a regular basis, ensuring they work with care and compassion and an overriding commitment to a culture of care.

The 3R's

The University of Surrey has embedded the principles of the 3Rs in relation to animal research:

  • Replacement 
  • Reduction 
  • Refinement.

Related bodies

The links below are provided for further information, the websites do not give information on behalf of the University of Surrey and the University accepts no responsibility for the content of the websites.