Cardiff University’s response to the Independent Review into issues of Racial Equality at Cardiff University’s School of Medicine - 25 January 2017

Cardiff University’s response to Bhugra report recommendations.

1. Offensive stereotyping of any person, or group of persons, should be actively discouraged. This recommendation should be widely disseminated and clearly highlighted in the Code of Conduct for all staff and students. It should be made clear that any such behaviour may lead to disciplinary or other action.

ACCEPT: The University is committed to ensuring that offensive stereotyping of any person, or groups, is actively discouraged.

This is included and enforced in a number of key University policies. It is also made clear that behaviour may lead to disciplinary or other action.

Policies include:

  • Fitness to Practise Procedure. This is one part of the University’s conduct regulations (which include Student Behaviour/Discipline and Unfair Practice too). The Fitness to Practise Procedure sets out the standards of behaviour and other FtP requirements and sets out how concerns will be investigated and taken to Committee for a sanction, if appropriate. If a student is enrolled on a professional programme there is an expectation that the student will, throughout their studies, demonstrate that they are fit to practise in the chosen profession. This includes ensuring as a student that their behaviour is professional on placement, in University and in the student’s personal life. Click here for an overview of the Fit to Practise Procedure and guidance.
  • Dignity at Work and Study Policy. This outlines the ways in which both staff and students are expected to behave towards others. It aims to ensure that allegations of harassment, bullying or victimisation, (including those related to the protected characteristics of gender, race, age, disability, sexual orientation, religion/belief, gender reassignment, marriage/civil partnership or pregnancy and maternity) are addressed fairly, with respect for the rights and dignity of all those involved.
  • Student Behaviour and discipline. The University has also defined the Rules of Behaviour which all students must follow. The Student Behaviour Procedure includes an offence of harassment towards students or members of staff and the definition includes harassment or bullying related to a protected characteristic.
  • The procedure also references rights and responsibilities contained in other documents including our Dignity at Work and Study Policy.
  • The Student Charter. This sets out what a student can expect from the University and the Students' Union and what is expected of a student.

We accept that dissemination of these policies could be better and, in light of this recommendation, we will consider what additional measures can be taken to improve staff and student awareness of these policies.

We have dedicated pages on our website and staff intranet. More information can be found here.

The University has also piloted an equality session for new students at induction and there is an online equality training presentation available to all students.

The University is currently reviewing both the Dignity at Work and Study policy and the Student Charter.

2. The University should as a matter of urgency seek the service of an external reconciliation body with the aim, of bringing the two student groups together to work out their different perspectives so that everyone can move forward.

ACCEPT: The School of Medicine is already working with an external restorative organisation to develop a programme to support the process of restorative communication and principles.

This aims to increase accountability, empathy and responsibility, and repair harm where possible; including all those affected, so all voices are heard respectfully; reparation by those who caused the harm; and moving forwards as a body to rebuild relationships; problem solving as a University, and preventing future harm by educating and increasing equality and diversity awareness and adopting restorative principles for the earliest intervention.

A draft programme is currently being developed and details of all actions will be made widely available.

3. The Panel heard a wide range of opinions concerning disadvantage to BME and female staff. Although it was outside the remit of the Panel to probe into the exact details of individual cases the Panel believes that the University should aim to increase the diversity of its staff.

ACCEPT: The University is fully committed to increasing the diversity of its staff. We accept that there is work to be done to reverse a longstanding sector-wide trend.

The University is already taking a number of proactive measures to increase the diversity of our staff.

They include:

  • A dedicated career development programme for female academics. This is a longstanding programme which gives female academics the opportunity to consider their future career and profile, time with a female member of University Executive Board to discuss their career choices and how they have dealt with different situations, reflection on their assertion, communication and conflict management skills, the opportunity to learn about the Academic Promotions process and to look at successful promotions cases.
  • The University actively promotes and supports the Leadership Foundation for HE specifically aimed at BME early career academics who are considering applying for, or aspiring to a senior leadership role in higher education.
  • The University is applying for and fully committed to achieving the Race Equality Charter. This aims to improve the representation, progression and success of minority ethnic staff and students within higher education. Our submission is due in July 2017.
  • As a University we hold an Athena Swan award (Bronze). In addition individual Schools and Colleges hold individual awards. The Award recognises work undertaken to address gender equality more broadly, and not just barriers to progression that affect women.

We will continue to promote all of these measures and where possible add to them.


4. This Report should be disseminated expeditiously so that students and staff can be guided by it. The University should seek to address the significant and wide ranging concerns raised by BME and female staff including actions to address the under-representation of senior staff in senior academic positions.

Accept: The University instigated this Independent Review.

In the interests of openness and transparency we are committed to making the report publicly available.

The full report and the University response will be made available on the University’s website.

All statements relating to the investigation are also available on the University website.

An article and link to the full report will be sent to all-staff and all-students via the University’s e-newsletters, Blas.

In terms of actions to address underrepresentation of senior staff – please see previous response (Recommendation 2).

5. The University should give detailed attention to its complaints procedure to ensure that there is a clear set of guidelines for complaints about racism and other forms of discrimination. They should ensure that this type of complaint is handled with appropriate sensitivity with due acknowledgement that some complaints can be resolved without resorting to formal procedures through informal resolution.

ACCEPT: We welcome this recommendation and we will examine options that may allow for alternative informal procedures to be followed.

The University is currently reviewing its Dignity at Work and Study Policy and this recommendation will be considered as part of this review.

However, it must also be recognised that if a group of students opt to make a formal complaint under our procedures we remain under an obligation to investigate and act on our findings.

6. The Panel recognises that the support had been offered to both the student groups. However, in view of the persistent complaints that students felt unsupported, it may be helpful to stream-line the processes. For example, the University should consider amending its procedures so that
complainant(s) can be offered a dedicated staff member/mentor to give immediate pastoral support if required. The person(s) being complained about should similarly be offered such support.

ACCEPT: We welcome this recommendation and shall work to ensure that pastoral as well as advisory staff are made available to complainants in the future and that this practice is fully understood by students to ensure they gain maximum value from this additional avenue of support.

In relation to this specific incident the University welcomes the recognition the Report gives to the support provided to the complainants through the process and we draw attention to the senior level support provided by the University’s Pro Vice-Chancellor for Students as well as the University’s Academic Registrar.

More generally our existing procedures ensure that in all cases students are signposted to University support services and once accessed these will provide a named individual. We also signpost the independent Students’ Union Advice Service which we note was identified for specific praise by the Review Panel.

Students also have the benefit of:

  • Access to their named personal tutor/academic mentor;
  • Contact details relating to the complaints procedure investigation;
  • Information about how to access pastoral support eg via Student Support

7. There should be prompt and clear communication with all persons affected directly by any complaint. The complainant (s) and the person(s) being complained about should be kept informed of the progress of the complaint at regular intervals during the process. If this unusual situation occurs again then anyone who is portrayed in an offensive manner should get appropriate support.

ACCEPT: Every effort is made to keep individuals informed of the progress of any complaint.


However, the ability to share information is often constrained by procedure and legislation relating to data protection. Constraints are often in place for legitimate reasons.

The University has to follow its published procedure as a failure to do so provide the grounds for appeal and challenge. Disclosure of personal information to an unauthorised person is unlawful.

We accept that more could be done communicate to individuals and in particular to explain to complainants - at the outset – the extent and nature of information we will be able to share relating to the progress of the case and the outcome.

As a result we will revisit our procedure to ensure there is clarity for individuals on when they will receive information. We will work to establish a clear statement from the outset of any complaint which sets out what they can expect during the process.

8. The Panel found it difficult to understand the structures of the Equality and Diversity Initiatives in the University and the Medical School and would suggest that these structures need clarifying.

ACCEPT: We accept that there is a need to clarify structures. Following the appointment of the University’s School of Medicine’s Sub Dean of Equality and Diversity new structures are currently being implemented across the School of Medicine. There are dedicated Equality and Diversity HR Committees being established in every Division and Centre (8 in total) within the School of Medicine.

The Terms of Reference have been prepared which specify the committee structure, which will include representation of staff (and students) at all grades and gender. Membership will be representative of the diverse pool of staff within each place of work.

9. The curriculum for first year medical students should ensure that Medicine and Society is covered as part of the induction soon after they start in the Medical School. This must include training in medical professionalism. It should also include addressing issues of unconscious bias and stereotyping. These topics should then be included annually in the curriculum both in terms of introduction and building upon the basic ideas.

ACCEPT: Equality and diversity training was presented to students by the University’s Dean of Medical Education during the first week of their studies.

This had been in place in previous years however it was more explicitly addressed during the presentation this year and will be a priority in future.

In addition, the foundation for the Equality and Diversity - Race, gender and unconscious bias/stereotype training that we currently deliver will be enhanced.

This aspect of the curriculum will be explored under the remit of the Understanding People Theme.

This has a dedicated working group, established at the outset of the C21 curriculum and will report to the curriculum team and align with the Professionalism aspects of the course.

We have invited Professor Nisha Dogra to present at the School of Medicine’s annual curriculum conference to further raise the profile of the issues and promote further discussion and innovation in this aspect.

The University’s School of Medicine has been in conversation with a colleague in New Zealand and is actively seeking ways in which we can share good practice around cultural competence.

10. The Medical School should work with the Students’ Union and Student Support service to educate and empower medical students to produce activities such as student revues, which are in in accordance with the University’s mission and values. Work with the Students’ Union will also ensure that there is a source of effective advice available to all students when participating in such activities.

ACCEPT: This recommendation will be considered as part of the University’s on-going review into the Student Charter. Additional consideration will also be made as part of the School of Medicine’s on-going engagement with the Students’ Union.

The University’s Academic Registrar will meet with the Students’ Union President and BME Officer to discuss this recommendation and consider what action is needed to take this forward.

11. All University staff should receive regular training in diversity including race, gender and sexual orientation.

ACCEPT: All University staff receive mandatory Equality and Diversity on-line training.

The programme is currently being revised and will be relaunched in due course.

All staff who have been with the University for more than 12 months will be asked to complete this training again.
The University has also developed an on-line programme for “unconscious bias”. This is mandatory for some groups but not all. This will now be reviewed in light of this recommendation.

12. An effective Mentoring Scheme should be established which is available to all new staff and to staff who are at a later stage in their careers to focus on career progression. This should also meet the needs of BME staff or female staff where traditionally it has been more difficult to forge a successful career in the University. Mentors should receive training and should be carefully selected from a diverse background.

ACCEPT: The University has a number of mentoring schemes specifically designed to help meet the needs of BME and female staff.

They include:

  • Staff who are members of the staff leadership programme are allocated a mentor;
  • Individual Colleges also have tailored Mentoring schemes;
  • Those members of staff who take part in the Leadership Foundation are also allocated an appropriate mentor;
  • The University is a member of The Women in Universities Mentoring Scheme (WUMS). This is an all-Wales scheme that aims to promote and facilitate professional development for women working in Welsh universities by setting up an inter-university mentoring partnership.

We accept that there are always areas that we can improve and this recommendation will be considered as part of on-going improvements.

13. Engage with the Medical Schools Council to consider further action to address issues of racism and diversity in course work which should be on-going rather than simply one-off teaching.

Accept: The University’s School of Medicine has engaged with the Diversity in Medicine and Health Group (DIMAH) which brings together all medical schools to review delivery of Equality and Diversity and to share best practice. They presented our data last year and will continue to do this. Resources developed through DIMAH are being shared with us and we will endeavor to adopt and implement, particularly focusing on the hidden curriculum.