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Past examples of departmental equality initiatives at UCL

Thematic seminars

• Seminar held to address the issues facing women researchers. Staff data was reviewed as part of this initiative, and an outside speaker was included at the seminar (Cell and Developmental Biology).

• A lecture series with scholars from South Asia was hosted to encourage student recruitment and scholarships from those countries (Institute of Archaeology).

• Seminar on 'Queer Scandinavia'. Two eminent professors in the field came from Denmark and Sweden to take part in the debate, which was chaired by Gabrielle Griffen from York University. Over 40 people attended, including members of the Swedish Embassy. The event was filmed and the department had a pod cast of the seminar on their website. The seminar was reported in Denmark at the Nordic Council Committee and was on the front page of the UCL website, raising the profile of a sexual orientation event (Scandinavian Studies).

• The department, in conjunction with the educational company 'Science made Simple' put on a play at the Bloomsbury theatre to over 300 school children from inner city London schools. The play included 'myth busting' about the type of people who are scientists and reached school children that wouldn't usually have attended a theatre event (Space and Climate Physics).

• International students were interviewed and filmed by Media Resources and included in the departmental webpage. Topics covered included how UCL is different to studying in their home country, atmosphere and culture of the department and what support is available within the department (Phonetics and Linguistics).

Student support

• Questions focusing on student support, learning needs and how inclusive the culture in the department is, were included in the end of year student questionnaire (Cell and Developmental Biology).

• Activities, such as peer mentoring, were implemented to retain students who may have weaker study skills (Electronic and Electrical Engineering).

• The department obtained and collated statistical info on student drop-out rates and ethnicity to understand at which stages BME students were leaving their studies (French).

Women in SET

• Female academics who had successfully taken a career break (maternity leave) and returned to the department were interviewed to find out what they and the department did to make this successful (Former department of Biology).

• The department identified barriers to career progression for female academics and then considered what support female academics would welcome to help gain promotion or to compete for posts at a senior level (Computer Science).

• A questionnaire was sent to all pregnant women in the department and an awareness raising exercise took place about recent changes in the law, entitlements, and actions in UCL's Gender Equality Scheme (Space and Climate Physics).

• The requirement for specific A-levels subjects, such as maths and physics, to apply for the undergraduate programme was dropped and was replaced by a requirement for A grades in any subject (Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering).

• The division sent out a maternity questionnaire to the 21 staff who have taken maternity leave in the past three years, asking about their experiences. Their replies led to the identification of some specific needs which were addressed in an action plan (Division of Psychology and Language Sciences).

• The department appointed a 'Women in Computing Coordinator' who proposes action the department can take to improve women's careers and any targets or goals (Computer Science).

• The lab launched an Athena SWAN webpage, with information on issues facing women in Science, Engineering and Technology (SET) and projects in the department to support women's careers (MRC Laboratory for Molecular Cell Biology).

• Department organised an annual Women in Mathematics Conference for lower 6th form students and continued with its 'bridging' course run for two weeks to help bridge the gap between school and university maths (Mathematics).


• Student Master classes - staff gave a half-day 'master class' to pupils from local schools, with the intention of demonstrating to A-level students the sort of work that they would be expected to do in a 1st year German degree at UCL (German).

• Department developed a widening participation programme including a direct mail out to targeted schools and 6th form colleges and held a taster day which included students from under-represented groups (Greek and Latin).

• Outreach to Muslim students. Department sent members of staff to local schools with large numbers of Muslim students in order to improve the recruitment of this group of pupils to the department and to counteract the possible perception that the department might be wholly Jewish or even 'Zionist' (Hebrew and Jewish Studies).

• The UCL school seismometer project was successfully launched in April 2009.  The aims of the project are to increase participation of under-represented minority students by raising awareness of Earth Sciences as a scientific discipline for students seeking entry to university.  In partnership with the British Geological Survey we have provided seismometers to a group of 15 schools in inner London and a training course for teachers from those schools.  The seismometers will allow students to interact with real scientific data in real time and are expected to operate indefinitely providing the basis for a long-term relationship between the schools and our department (Earth Sciences).

• Over past several years the department has organised several school visits for the schools with high proportion of children refugees or from displaced families (former department of Biochemistry).


• Training programme set up to equip human resources staff to assist with the facilitation of harassment and bullying cases (Human Resources Division).

• Set aside a whole day for all staff to be trained in a range of equalities issues (School of Public Policy).


• Departmental and virtual websites reviewed to ensure disability access (Dutch).

• Post grad student hired to review all the departmental publicity and revise all text illustrations and website in accordance with equalities and diversity guidelines (Anthropology).

• Divisional recruitment target to employ 22% BME staff (Human Resources Division).

• To expand the bank of images for use in documents and on the web with particular emphasis on celebrating the diversity of the UCL population (Information Systems)

• Institute set up a staff Equalities Steering Group to manage equalities work (Institute of Urology and Nephrology).

• 2006 - 2007 Audit Plans- Identifying equality issues (Internal Audit Services).

• Publicised Bentham's Equality thinking - created a publicity leaflet for staff, students and members of the public (Bentham Project).

• Staff Handbook - review of the departments staff literature to ensure that it was accessible to all groups and covered all issues relating to equality (Biology).

• Pilot Mentoring scheme for post docs set up (Division of Medicine).

• Development of departmental equalities and diversity strategy (Museums and Collections).



Last updated: 12th October 2016