UCL Institute of Cardiovascular Science


EDI Action Plan

Equality Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Athena Swan Action Plan - UCL Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences (ICS)

The Silver Athena Swan award, which was granted to the Institute of Cardiovascular Science (ICS) in 2017, reflected the deep commitment of the Institute Managers, staff and students to uphold the principles of equality, diversity and inclusiveness for everyone within the Institute. However, we are also committed to working closely with colleagues within the Faculty of Population and Health Sciences and across UCL to promote and maintain the highest standards embraced by the Athena Swan charter. This has been reflected in many of the activities undertaken to achieve the action points previously laid out. However, the challenges arising as a consequence of the Covid-19 pandemic during 2020-21, has deeply affected many aspects of work and life balance for staff and students both locally within the Institute as well as at the University and Societial level.

During this period, the Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences EDI committee worked closely with the Institute Management board and other groups to provide additional support and guidance for our staff and students. These included provision of online support for staff and students, eg. weekly drop-in sessions, Town Hall meetings and ICS / UCL support schemes. On the other hand, other action points that were in progress and were affected by recent events, will also be extended to ensure completion during the next year.

Issue IdentifiedAim and proposed actionTimescaleResponsibilitySuccess MeasureSuccess achieved to dateAchievements 2021Extended plan (1 year)
3.1. SAT: currently female dominated. Student representatives will leave at the end of this academic year due to programme completion.

To expand/refresh membership with male student representative from iBSc/MSc/Phd/MD(Res) and/or male members of staff, including PS/technical staff, by engaging with:

May 2018








Increased male representation to 50%


39% male overall representation

Male SAT members increased (8 males; 12 females)

Continued recruitment of active male staff members

 i. new iBSc/MSc student intakes at Induction weeks as this has proven successful in the past yearsSept 2018iBSc/MSc Director, SAT≥1 male student in the SATNot currently met New recruitment in September 2021
 ii. PhD/MD(Res) students and staff at get-together events through reports on past SAT activities and presentations of opportunities to join specific events/actionsDec 2018AS co-chairs≥1 new male staff in the SATTarget met   
4.1. iBSc:more men (~75%) than women apply for this course, all registered FT, following the trend within Cardiology to attract men (80%) more than women.

To increase student numbers over the next few years and enhance the proportion of women, by reviewing our marketing strategy, we will:


iBSc Director, MSc Director, Institute Manager


Increased number of applications to 20 per year, with ≥40% female applicants


Goal achieved Student numbers increased significantly to 41 in 2020-21

Continued support of iBSc students and recruitment to SAT panel

i. promote the course to external candidates with strong interest in cardiovascular health and disease

Dec 2018


Increased no. of female students to act nearly 50% (20 females of 41 students)

 ii. include images of female and BAME students/teachers in the course advertising materials

Dec 2018


External candidates also recruited

 iii. record a video, as done successfully for the MSc, with past female students and clinical staff Dec 2018    Video of clinician still to be completed (delay due to COVID)Late 2021- early 2022
 iv. ensure female course tutors are present at the iBSc fair where students make their course selectionJan 2019    Achieved  
 v. invite female clinical scientists and alumni to present their experience at a focused career session Mar 2019   Achieved  
 vi. organise focus group with UCL Medical School 1st year students to assess bias in different clinical specialities June 2019   Still ongoingWorking with clinical researchers to achieve this
4.2. Student monitoring: student diversities, other than gender and PT/FT, are not formally monitored for our iBSc, MSc and PhD/MD(Res) at Institute level and this information is not available from central UCL To evaluate potential intersectionality trends and issues for further action by SAT and DTC/SSCC, by collecting quality data within the GDPR regulations for our iBSc, MSc and PhD/MD(Res) students at registration and end of programme, including length of study, attainment and career destination (AP4.4) to be included on ICS website.


Undergrudatue & postgraduate administrators, MSc Director

≥90% student data collected in ICS registry and annual review by SAT and DTC/SSCC.


Data collected and collated in line with GDPR guidelines





Data to be included on website

Ongoing process
4.3. Clinical staff: male are predominant (67%) amongst ICS clinical staff as Cardiology remains a male dominated specialty (80%), in particular at senior level.

To encourage consideration of Cardiology as a career at an early stage, by:


Clinical SAT members, HoRD of Clinical Sciences, iBSc/MSc Directors

≥40% female clinical staff

22% female clinical staff Female clinical lecturers involved in teaching / tutoring iBSc students. Recruitment of female cardiologists recognised as a key area of concern in cardiology; particularly in current climate of COVID pandemicWorking with clinical colleagues to raise profile of female clinicians.

i. emphasising positive female role models in our iBSc/MSc recruitment and teaching (AP4.1)

     Video from successful female clinical researcher to be posted on website.

ii. identifying key role models for students and young doctors at ICS Research Department of Clinical Sciences at Bart’s Hospital, the Royal Free Hospital and UCLH


iii. mentoring and encouraging women clinical scientists annually to consider putting themselves forward for promotion

4.4. Academic leavers: details on reasons for leaving and future employment/plans are not formally recorded in ICS.

To record and explore formally reasons for leaving and future employment/plans in order to assess potential areas for improvement, by introducing and analysing an online exit survey


Institute Professional Services Team

≥95% known career destination for staff leavers and annual review by the SAT

  Ongoing process


5.1. Training monitoring: attendance to mandatory training courses is not fully recorded for new staff or when re-training for existing staff  To promote and record uptake to mandatory training and remind of re-training, by sending appropriate information together with the Appraisal documents and adding a specific box to the Appraisal form for annual data review, analysis and further action if necessary by the SAT  

≥95% uptake on mandatory training, in particular on Unconscious Bias, for new staff, and retraining every 3 years for current staff


Information gathered is limited by GDPR 

These processes have been affected by the pandemic: many courses switched to online to support uptake by staff, and have been highlighted at the Institute’s Town Hall meetings.

Continued monitoring of training
5.2.Clinical staff recruitment: 

data quality needs to be improved, but analysis on available recruitment data has shown that female academic cardiologists are less successful than men during the recruitment process

To understand the reasons behind female academic cardiologists being less successful than men during the recruitment process, by engaging with ‘Women in Cardiology’, British Cardiovascular Society (BCS) and running a focus group for identifying barriers, and training in CV writing, presentation and interview

from BCS Annual Conference 2019 to 2023

Clinical SAT members

Equal success rates for women and men from initial application through offer

 Recruitment of female cardiologists recognised as a key area of concern in cardiology; clinical heads of department to help with recruitment. 
5.3. Recruitment 

panels: diversities other than gender are not currently monitored in our selection panels for new posts

To monitor BAME representation in ICS interviewing panel, and increase the proportion of BAME members if necessary, by drawing from a UCL bias and selection expert pool of BAME staff

Dec 2019

Institute Manager, HR manager


≥33% BAME representation in interviewing panels

2017 = 22%

2018 = 15%

2019 = 42%

2020 = data unavailable/limited due to recruitment freeze  
 Continue to monitor BAME representation and replicate success from 2019
5.4. Promotion - Scientists: 

few scientists apply, in particular for Additional Increments/Contribution Points There is poor level of understanding of the promotion process (ICS staff survey 2017) and UCL introduced a new Academic Career Framework in Oct 2017 to help plan and support career development and recognise achievements.

To encourage more scientists to apply and improve understanding of promotion process and criteria, some actions have already been implemented as explained in Section 5.1(iii) and outcomes will be assessed in the next few months. However, we have identified further areas for action:


Institute Director, Institute Manager, HoRD,SAT

≥20% staff applying for Additional Increments/ Contribution Points/ Promotions annually with ≥80% staff reporting that they understand the promotion process and criteria (staff survey


i. to bring forward the invitation to research staff to apply to allow more time to prepare

Sept 2018


ii. positive action to ensure that PT staff are encouraged to apply and are supported

Sept 2018


iii. To run an annual research/academic promotions workshop led by senior ICS members at the beginning of September every year, in particular focusing on SMART objectives and making explicit the link between a fellowship as evidence of achievement and as source of funding

Sept 2018


iv. To review the Workload model used in appraisals to facilitate the discussion around promotion, in particular to ensure enabling activities are properly recognised

Dec 2018

5.5. REF2021 

all eligible female staff members (30% of total return) were returned at REF2014. We forecast an increase in the number of female returned, reflecting the increase in the numbers of female staff

To have a return for REF2021 with no bias for gender and/or other diversities and plan for impact case submission, by running a mock REF exercise

Oct 2018

Institute Director, Institute Manager, HORD, SAT co-chairs

No gender bias in the staff returned to the REF; ≥33% of ICS impact studies to include women

5.6. Promotion - 

PS/technical staff: lack of a formal career structure at UCL makes progression difficult

To assess the need of encouraging PS/technical to apply for promotion, by monitoring application for regrading by grade, gender and PT/FT modes, introducing a tailored Workload model for PS/technical staff for discussion during appraisals and by adding specific questions to the bi-annual ICS staff survey

March 2019

SAT PS/technical staff

Promotion data, ICS staff survey results and Workload model forms from appraisals returned for SAT monitoring and assessment

5.7. Appraisal: return rate (85%) has improved thanks to the actions introduced in the past years, but we have not yet achieved the 95% target. In addition, 37% of staff (no gender difference) finds the appraisal not useful (ICS staff survey 2017)

To rise return rate further and assess quality of appraisals, by:


SAT co-chairs, HoRD

≥95% staff appraised annually with 100% of line managers completing UCL appraisal training and ≥85% staff finding appraisal constructive and useful (staff survey)

>80% achieved pre-lockdown. Affected by changes to recording processes for specific groups of staff (professorial and joint clinical), not necessarily available on my HR. Appraisal processes also significantly affected by pandemic and lockdown during 2020-21.

Organise workshop to raise awareness of appraisal system. ICS Management to raise awareness with managers and continued monitoring of success rate


i. adapting ICS staff survey to include specific questions

Jan 2019


ii. running focus workshops with different categories according to survey results

Dec 2019


iii. ensuring that all Line Managers undertake UCL Appraiser Training

Dec 2019

5.8. Fellowships: number of applicants are small, although training through tailored workshops, and support from JF and senior staff are provided

To increase the number of fellowship applications, by setting up an ad hoc task force, which will work with IMB and JF to actively seek candidates for fellowships, and support them through 1-to-1 mentoring, reviewing of applications and interview training.

Dec 2018










Institute DirectorHoRD, JF chair

≥3 ECRs (≥1 woman) identified annually to put forward for fellowship applications,



≥ 50% success rate

 Some improvement in increasing numbers with more success for women in clinical fellowships (36% compared with 26% men) and non-clinical fellowships (24% female success; 0% male)

EDI committee supports RANG fellowship committee in planning and facilitating programmes for fellowship applicants.

Work with HoD to identify and support appropriate candidates.
5.9. Student career development: career development events are organised for iBSc/MSc/PhD/M(Res) students, but feedback is not always collected formally, and 1-to-1 mentoring is available for only a limited number of students (MSc/BHF PhD)

To ensure that career development session are meeting expectation and to increase mentoring opportunities, by:


i. collecting formal feedback with short questionnaire at the end of each event

ii. piloting a mentoring scheme for PhD student groups, provided by JF ECR mentors, which will undergo training. This would allow us to overcome the main challenge of 1-to-1 mentoring in identifying enough senior female mentors and will allow development of mentoring skills in our ECR group



Sept 2020

SAT co-chairs, JF chair

≥50% of ICS students have a mentor and report positive effects in student survey

 All students are provided with mentors; good feedback from survey. Student career workshops held regularly.Ongoing support of students.
5.10. Grant applications: A thorough record on grant application numbers and success rates across ICS is lacking

To monitor grant/fellowship applications vs. results, including gender differences, in order to highlight areas of strengths and weaknesses and to support academic/research staff in the application process, by allocating a PS Administrator to each Research Department. The Institute Manager will use new software tools to provide data and insight to inform improvements

May 2019













Institute Manager

Grant data report as agenda item at IMB and JF

Increased grant & fellowship success rate


5.11. Training for PS/technical staff: only 50% feels that there are sufficient career development opportunities (UCL Staff Survey 2017)

To identify the barriers to training, reasons for lack of opportunities and specific needs, by running focus groups with PS and with technical staff, followed by short questionnaires.

Dec 2018

Institute Manager, SAT co-chairs, PS/technical staff SAT members

≥75% PS/technical staff responding positively in feeling supported in their career (ICS & UCL staff survey 2021)

 Focus shifted to providing PS/technical staff support to adjust to the new working environment and increased workload due to Covid restrictions. This included creating suitable home-working conditions, flexible working/part-time furlough and re-assessment of existing JDs and priorities. Barriers to training and lack of opportunities were discussed as part of the appraisal process. Run focus groups with PS/Technical staff to identify barriers to training and put in place measures to address the issues.

To increase the availability of training session and improve the effectiveness of current courses, by ensuring training opportunities are offered locally (ICS shadowing, FPHS courses) and are proposed in relation to the ability to progress or be promoted.

May 2020


To improve networking and sharing best practices, by creating a Technician Network supported by a small budget; technicians from other Divisions within UCL who have successful implemented these networks could be invited to facilitate this action.

May 2019

    To continue outreach activities especially relating to areas of interest to the public
5.12. Outreach activities: recognition of the importance of these activities for staff promotion/additional increment/contribution point and for student development is not clear

To extend outreach programme and further incentivise uptake, by encouragement at appraisals, explicit linking to promotion, and reporting past public engagement activities in the News section of ICS website and at all staff events

May 2020SAT


≥75% staff (no gender difference) involved in outreach activities reported in the appraisal Workload model