Tuesday 17 December - Response from Vice-Chancellor Professor Colin Riordan to Mr Andrew RT Davies AM
Dear Mr Davies
Thank you for your letter of 16 December concerning public comments made by Dr Andy Williams and other members of our academic staff.
I agree with you absolutely on the vital importance of upholding freedom of speech and note that these comments were made on Dr Williams’ private Twitter account. I can absolutely assure you that the views expressed by Dr Williams in no way represent those of the University, which encourages dignity and respect at both work and study.
The country has been through a difficult time recently, with bitter and sharp political divides. I fully agree that language needs to be tempered.
Thank you for your invitation to meet to discuss this matter, which I am pleased to accept. My office will be in touch to make the necessary arrangements.
With best wishes
Professor Colin Riordan
Monday 16 December
A Cardiff University spokesperson said: "We’ve received a number of complaints from members of the public and students. Where a complaint relates to the behaviour of a member of Cardiff University staff, they are considered under our Dignity at Work and Study Policy."
Sunday 15 December
A Cardiff University spokesperson said: "These are Dr Williams's personal comments, expressed on his personal account. They do not reflect the view of Cardiff University. We will respond to Mr Davies's letter as soon as it's received."
Voter registration – 12/12/2019
Mae'r cynnwys hwn ar gael yn Saesneg yn unig.
As a result of an administrative error some students have not been registered to vote. We are deeply sorry and apologise, unreservedly. We have contacted all students we believe are affected. As soon as the issue was brought to our attention, we did everything possible to put it right. Unfortunately, the legal deadline for registration had passed. The vast majority of students, some 5,800, who registered through our SIMS enrolment process are able to vote. In addition, in the run-up to the election we actively encouraged all students to register to vote through official voter registration channels. We will undertake a full review of our processes to ensure this can never happen again.
University statement on Student Union lift - 11/12/2019
To our students, staff, and the public. We are deeply sorry for the long delay to the opening of the lift at the Park Place CUSU temporary entrance. We are working with the contractor. Please accept our apologies. We will update you when it opens.
Pro-choice motion – Cardiff University Students’ Union
This is a matter for the Students’ Union, not Cardiff University. The Students’ Union is a separate organisation to the University.
Below is a statement from Jackie Yip, Students’ Union President:
At our annual members meeting [21st November 2019], over 800 students took part in a debate over the Students’ Unions position on abortion rights and bodily autonomy. The meeting overwhelmingly resolved that the Union should take a pro-choice stance and advocate this to its members. It is deliberately misleading to suggest that the Union has, or will, attempt to censor students’ rights to hold or promote different views. We reject the false narrative being promoted by individuals and organisations who are seeking to undermine the freedom of expression of our students.
With 33,000+ students at Cardiff University, there is a wide range of debate and opinion that takes place on a variety of topics. Students’ Unions have a proud history of debating both political and sensitive topics. Freedom of expression and the ability to form such stances have ensured education institutions have contributed to key debates in society.
Many SU’s across the country will have both a pro-choice stance and will also have multiple affiliated student groups who hold opposing views. It is simply not true to suggest that student groups will now be silenced, have activity censored, or be unable to exist in the first place.
The Students’ Union has since met with the Students for Life society and reassured them about their future in the Union, they will continue to exist with the support of the Students’ Union, as with all other affiliated groups. We encourage all students to engage in sensitive debates in respectful way and condemn any behaviours that cause threat or abuse.
Cardiff University welcomes the report, ‘Tackling racial harassment: universities challenged’. This report can only further and deepen the understanding of the experience of racial harassment across the sector and its impact on both students and staff. As a University we are already taking proactive steps to ensure that promoting race equality is central to us as an institution. We fully recognise there is still more work to be done, working alongside the wider Higher Education sector and society as a whole.
Like the rest of the sector it is important that we take time to digest the report’s findings and consider its recommendations. Cardiff University is seeking to build upon good practice currently established and awaits the response from the UUK advisory group and the OFS to further inform, challenge and scrutinise our current actions and existing internal projects. We commit to integrating external advice and guidance with our own local expertise in order to make a real difference.
The University accepts there is limited understanding and a lack of confidence in talking about racial harassment within the current environment. The Vice Chancellor acknowledges the importance, urgency and priority of leadership in tackling racial harassment. As part of the process to open up more meaningful conversations about race, the University’s Senior Staff Conference this year included an emphasis on race equality, providing attendees with an opportunity to consider their responsibilities as a group of leaders in addressing these issues. We will also be establishing a task and finish group to take views and make suggestions on measures to improve the diversity and inclusivity of our academic leadership cohort.
Cardiff University takes any allegation of racial harassment extremely seriously and we urge any student or staff member to raise complaints via our formal complaint procedures. Students are also able to report incidents of racial harassment both named and anonymously to Cardiff University’s Disclosure Response Team. Launched in October 2017, the project aims to assist and offer support to students who have previously been victims of violence or assault. Those who choose to report their experiences anonymously will not receive physical help, but their incident will be recorded by the University to help better understand trends and patterns of sexual and violent activity on campus and this includes racial harassment.
We have taken significant steps to provide support to both the complainant and the staff who work with the complainant. We have established a ‘Race Equality Supervisory Panel’ that is highlighted in the EHRC’s report (page 91). The aim of this panel is to reduce barriers to reporting, build trust and provide a consistent framework and process for reporting. It raises awareness of racial harassment and encourages the reporting of race hate crimes or incidents with the aim of improving transparency in terms of the gathering of data around complaints and the types of complaints. The panel is working closely with the Data Protection Officer who provides advice on safeguarding the complainant’s personal data. In doing so, we are establishing an appropriate balance between transparency and the wellbeing of complainants. The inclusion of a diverse group of staff working on cases ensures consistency of practice, avoids dependency on any one individual and increases learning and knowledge in this area.
Staff are able to raise incidents of racial harassment through our Dignity at Work and Study Policy. Staff also have access to Care First, our Employee Assistance Programme, providing a free confidential helpline and support for staff, and access to face-to-face or telephone counselling.
We continue to work together with our Students’ Union, the Race Equality Steering Group, BME+ Network, The BAME attainment gap group, Talking Race Equality, The BAME Staff Network and the BME SU Officer, academic schools and professional services to ensure that we make real improvements in this area and on the broader issue of race equality in higher education.
A recent employment law case has resulted in a change to the way in which strike pay deductions are calculated. As a result of this change and following constructive discussions with the Trade Unions the university can confirm that as a gesture of good will any staff member who has undertaken Industrial action resulting in a pay deduction at the rate of 1/261 between October 2013 and August 2016 will be reimbursed the difference between that deduction and a deduction of 1/365 in their November pay.
OIA summary - 01/07/2019
“Whilst we don’t comment on individual cases, we do fully co-operate with all OIA investigations and comply with any recommendations.
“We recognise the importance of the OIA's role as ombudsman in the higher education sector and proactively advise our students that they are able to take a case to the OIA at the conclusion of any internal procedures.”
Mental health support - 13/05/2019
Cardiff University takes mental health extremely seriously. To be absolutely clear: we will continue to offer students support during the exam period and we encourage students to access this support, especially if they are in crisis. To suggest otherwise is extremely misleading.
We have a variety of measures in place to support our students with loyal and dedicated members of staff who work tirelessly in their roles.
Like many Universities we offer one-to-one appointments from our Counselling and Wellbeing Service to help students with short term issues which may be affecting their studies and student experience. This service has been in especially high demand recently. We have therefore had to adapt the way we work. Students already registered with the service are being prioritised for one-to-one appointments as requested. Students new to the service can access other timely options which have been enhanced. In particular, our daily drop-in service has been extended and more slots are available to see new students who wish to discuss their concerns in a short session. This is a chance to speak with a member of staff, to receive resources and to be signposted to the most appropriate support available.
We have also increased access to other services, such as workshops on anxiety and exam stress and a range of self-help resources.