UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology


Our EDI strategic priorities and achievements

Learn about the past, current and future EDI initiatives at the IoN. Learn about the impact of our work. 

IoN Code of Conduct: what culture do we want to foster?

This Code sets out the core standards expected from all affiliated staff and students. It seeks to create a positive research culture that promotes a sense of shared ownership, responsibility and conduct of behaviour for the success of all stakeholders we serve. 

Our vision

Commitment: We have a strong commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion, supported by visible and effective leadership. 

Inclusiveness: We will promote an inclusive workplace by identifying and enabling the sharing of good practice across teams and individuals. 

Integrity: We will maintain the integrity of judgements and inspire trust by being honest, ethical, and taking responsibility for our actions. 

Transparency: We will communicate with each other and outside stakeholders in an open and transparent manner. Our decisions must stand up to scrutiny and be impartial. 

Respect: We embrace diversity and inclusion and treat each other with dignity and respect. 

Equality & Diversity: We will value and celebrate the diversity of our staff and student body and ensure that equality of opportunity is afforded to all. 

Ethical: We will ensure all ethical standards are maintained to ensure professional and responsible behaviour. 


Expected behaviours

Diversity in recruitment: We are committed to attracting, developing, engaging and empowering a diverse community who are motivated to fulfil their potential and our vision. 

Accountability: Each employee has a responsibility to promote a supportive and positive workplace towards our vision. 

Respect: We respect and value diversity and the unique contributions that foster a trusting, open and inclusive environment. All staff are obliged to work with colleagues, students and other stakeholders with respect, courtesy, professionalism and politeness. 

Fairness: Members of staff can expect to be treated fairly irrespective of age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, gender or sexual orientation. 

Privilege: Be aware of the privileges you may carry and be considerate towards those who might not have the same privileges as you. Mobilise your privileges in authentic allyship to give a voice and safe space to those who do not have the same advantages. 


Unaceptable behaviours

Bullying: This construe offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting behaviour, including an abuse or misuse of power through means that undermine, humiliate, denigrate, or injure the recipient.   

Harassment: Harassment includes speech or behaviour that is not welcome or is personally offensive in relation to a relevant protected characteristic which has the purpose or effect of violating an individual’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for that individual. Harassment may be established from a single event.  

Intimidation: Behaviour aimed at or resulting in the victim’s dignity being affected constitutes intimidation. It creates a threatening, hostile, insulting, humiliating or hurtful environment. 

Sexual harassment: Any undesirable sexual advances in the form of requests for sexual favours or other verbal, non-verbal or physical behaviour with sexual connotations that is aimed at, or results in, the person’s dignity being affected (particularly when a threatening, hostile, offensive, humiliating or hurtful situation is created) are unacceptable. Verbal and non-verbal sexual harassment includes sexual innuendo in remarks, messages, images or gestures, the unsolicited sending or intentional viewing of pornographic images or texts in plain view of others, staring, or asking intimate questions. Physical sexual harassment ranges from grabbing someone or obstructing someone’s path to sexual assault and rape. 

Aggression and violence: Any aggressive behaviour that includes verbal (name-calling, yelling or very heated arguments), physical (kicking, shoving, hitting, spitting, biting, smashing) or psychological violence (threats, intimidation, blackmail or humiliation) is unacceptable.  

Unwelcome or offensive comments: Comments related to the age, appearance, body size, employment status, ethnicity, gender identity and expression, individual lifestyle, marital status, national origin, physical or cognitive ability, political affiliation, sexual orientation, race, or religion of any person are not permitted. 

Exclusionary behaviours: Such behaviours isolate and discriminate against individuals and groups who are different. They  may include incivility, bullying and workplace violence. 

Abuse of seniority or power: Those in a position of power are expected to use their position fairly and responsibly. Any abuse of seniority or power over students, team members and colleagues will not be tolerated. 

full stop



Learn more about our EDI Strategy for the next 5 years

1 - Increased transparency

We pledge to publish an annual EDI report, from 2022, to share key equality metrics with our community. We will work towards achieving pay gap and workload gap transparency​ by 2027.


2 - Increase mental health support available at the QS IoN.

In recent years, mental health has become a concerning issue within the Higher Education sector. This has been significantly aggravated by the Covid-19 crisis and the pandemic of stress and isolation that derived from it. Our 2021 Staff and Student Surveys highlighted the growing need to offer mental health support locally at the QS IoN. 

We are currently working hard to improve our local mental health and wellbeing support provisions. In September of 2022 we will run Mental Health First Aid training at QS IoN to increase the number of members of staff who are equipped to be a first point of contact and support staff/students experiencing emotional distress or suffering in silence with mental health problems, such as stress, anxiety or depression.

We are committed to ensure representation from all of our departments and ensure balanced representation between gender, ethnicity, people in different roles and at different levels of seniority amongst those who are trained as Mental Health First Aiders at the institute. The list of QS IoN MHFA is available for consultation on our Wellbeing and Mental Health website

We are considering offering bespoke training to QS IoN managers by 2023 to empower them in dealing with mental health duress within their teams.  We also want to train mentors in our mentoring programmes to support mentees’ resilience and wellbeing.


3 - Breaking the silence around mental ill health in Academia.

Mental health is a subject often neglected in Academia, with extraordinarily detrimental outcomes for scientists and scientific output. This is particularly true for young researchers, who are the most vulnerable in our community. In 2022 we aim to lead on several events to normalise conversations around mental ill health in Academic settings. Our first event will took place during the 2022 Mental Health Awareness Week and was led by Professor Schiavo and Dr. De La-Rocque. This event invited the QS IoN community to kick-start an important conversation on wellbeing, work-life balance and the importance of creating a research culture that provides better support and outcomes to us all. 

See the recording here. 


4 - Tackle bullying and harassment.

The academic research environment is highly pressurised. In this context problematic behaviours are often excused, suffering is seen as a badge of honour and bullying is endemic in many environments. At the QS IoN we strongly oppose to the ‘thick skin’ rhetoric being used as an excuse to abuse. As such, we invite all the members of our community to help us foster a Culture of Care and create a workplace culture that truly champions diversity and inclusion. 

We will also keep on promoting specialized training, such as ‘Where do you draw the line’ and ‘Active Bystander’ for staff and students.


5 - Breaking the silos in QS IoN: create cross-departmental networks and events .

One of the issues often highlighted in the 2021 Staff and Student surveys and during our Townhall meeting was the need to create more platforms for departmental cross-pollination and networking. In 2022 we supported the re-launch of the QS IoN Seminar Series a monthly seminar series where Early Career Researchers presented their work to PIs, ECRs and students across the Institute in a relaxed environment. In the coming years we are looking into different initiatives to bridge the gap between departments.


6 - Embed career support initiatives for all staff groups.

We will continue to work hard to provide career development support for all members of staff. To this end we will:

  • Continuously improve our ECR Promotions’ workshops.
  • Renew the QS IoN Leadership Development Programme for Technicians and Research Assistants in 2023.
  • Keep on improving our Mentoring offerings to accommodate more mentees. Learn more about it on our IoN Mentoring website.
  • Increase transparency of UCL career structures for members of staff in different occupational groups through the creation of a new website page entitled ‘Building your career at IoN.
  • Increase transparency on Proleptic (or tenure-track) appointments at QS IoN by sharing the criteria and guidance on our websites and in our promotions’ workshops.
  • Supported the FBS Professional Services and Technicians Away Day 27th June 2022. 


7 - Continued support for students from under-represented backgrounds. 

We are committed to tackling the underrepresentation of students from ethnic minority backgrounds and we are looking into funding strategies to support access to PGR studies in our Institute. We hope to be able to implement a positive action PhD scholarship by 2023.


8 - Apply to Athena SWAN Gold Award by 2024.

We are working towards building a strong case to apply for an Athena Swan Gold award by 2024. We will keep pushing for increasing the proportion of women and ethnic minorities in Academic posts​. We aim to implement bold recruitment strategies to increase representation of women and ethnic minorities who are shortlisted for senior positions at the IoN by 2027.



Read our latest EDI Report

Cover page of the Institute of Neurology Equality Diversity and Inclusion report

Submit feedback on the ION EDI report

Past Reports:

How are we supporting students from underrepresented backgrounds?

James Risien Russell Scholarship

White students are over-represented in PGT and PGR cohorts, compared to the undergraduate population suggesting challenges with widening participation. We specifically see underrepresentation of British Black and British Asian students at Postgraduate Taught level, compared to the Faculty of Brain Sciences and with UCL at large.

In 2021, the QS IoN launched a new positive action scholarship to attract students from a broader range of backgrounds to tackle the lack of diversity within Neurology and Neuroscience. This new scholarship has been named after Dr. James Samuel Risien Russell (1863 - 1939), who was appointed resident medical officer at the National Hospital (1888) and was one of Britain’s first black British consultants.

Two students have been awarded with Risien Russell scholarships in 2021, in the value of £2,500 per annum each. When asked about the impact the Risien Russel Scholarship had on their ability to study at the QS IoN, one of the recipients answered:

“It has allowed me to focus on my studies and dedicate more time to it. It has allowed me to spend more time exploring other interests within Neuroscience and gain more clinical experience.”

In 2022, the Institute of Neurology is increasing its offering and we currently are advertising three partial fees only scholarships worth £4,000 each for Home fee paying students from ethnic minority backgrounds. As with the previous year, preference will be given to people from under-represented backgrounds at UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology.

Find out more information about our positive action initiatives for PGT students at the IoN Education website


Supporting In2Research at IoN

In2research provides paid placements in STEM research at top universities for people from disadvantaged backgrounds to gain insight into postgraduate research. Participants also receive mentorship from leading researchers in the science, technology, engineering and maths sector workshops, and away days.

The IoN Wellcome Centre for Human Neuroimaging furthered our partnership with In2Science and has spearheaded In2Research: a project to narrow the BAME representation gap in post-graduate programmes. In2research was designed to tackle three fundamental barriers to progression: knowledge of the postgraduate application system, research experience and the academic culture of the institution they are going into.


IoN Under-Represented Students Mentorship Scheme

The Under-Represented Student Mentorship Scheme (URSM) initiative organises senior-to-junior student mentorship for Masters students from under-represented groups, who are considering applying for PhD studies in Neuroscience at UCL. Under-represented refers to anyone who faces barriers to opportunities due to mental health issues, physical health/disability, neurodivergence, socio-economic background, and those from the LGBTQIA+, and Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities. Although this definition is already broad, we leave to each person the self-identification as a member of an under-represented group.

We aim to:

Improve diversity and representation across neuroscience departments. In particular, this programme has been promoted by the IoN Wellcome Centre for Human Imaging but aims to include the broader community of UCL neuroscience.

For more information and to learn how you can participate in this scheme, please visit the URSM scheme website



How are we supporting the career development of women and ethnic minorities? 

Promotion workshops at the IoN

The IoN holds a Early Career Researchers and a Senior Careers Researchers Promotions workshops every year to support the carrer development of our members of staff.

The department has also prepared a dedicated website with relevant information on how to build your career at the IoN, which includes a detailed website with the UCL Academic Career Framework explained by target Grade and case studies of sucessfull promotions in the department


IoN Mentoring Offerings

Mentoring enables people to achieve their potential through a work-based relationship between two parties who are not connected within a line management structure. At its core, a successful mentoring relationship relies on two important factors:

the mentor should be more experienced than the mentee and guides the mentee towards an agreed objective that is connected to a career plan. the mentee takes primary responsibility for managing their learning with the help of the mentor.


At the Institute of Neurology we are committed to supporting the Career Development of all our members of staff and students. We have different offerings for Masters students, PhD students, non-clinical/clinical Research and Academic staff. We are also part of the faculty-wide mentoring scheme for Technical and Administrative Professional Services staff. 

Visit our dedicated IoN Mentoring website to find out the different offerings available and how to join one of our schemes. 
IoN Leadership Development Programme for Technicians and Research Assistants (up to Grades 7)

Developing Partner

Make Time Count Ltd. https://www.maketimecount.com/

Who is this programme for?

For IoN Members of staff in Grades 5-7, including PhD students that work as part-time Research Assistants/Technicians.

Rationale for the programme

The Institute wishes to support and develop their junior staff through a local provision as part of their EDI strategy.

We have conducted an online survey to assess the training needs of junior members of staff at the IoN, and the overwhelming majority (90%) of participants said they would be interested in enrolling in a Leadership programme to develop their career prospects.

Why focus on leadership? The word leadership is featured 58 times in UCL Academic Career Framework and the UCL Ways of Working policy features the words Leader/Leadership 7 times. Leadership is an enabling and transferable skill. As you become more senior, the leadership aspect of your role becomes more relevant. As such, it is clearly important that we equip our members of staff with the tools that will enable them to progress in their careers.

UCL has limited capacity to offer opportunities of leadership training. Because of this scarcity, in the past few years IoN’s Research Departments have only been able to nominate members of staff in more senior contracts to centrally offered Leadership training opportunities.

Our goal is to address this disparity of opportunities by providing locally Leadership training.

Our mission is to inspire, support and equip a critical staff group to feel they are valued and supported.

Aims of the Programme

This programme was designed to support the personal and professional development of staff members in Grades 5-6B, including PhD students that work as part-time Research Assistants/Technicians.

Our aim is to:

  1. Create a starting point for an offer of development and support for this staff group.
  2. Empower, equip and support personal agency.
  3. Give practical tools for people to support their wellbeing, leadership, and confidence to forge meaningful career path.
  4. Catalyse connection and sense of pride within this staff group.
  5. Help the institute learn about what this group of staff needs to be well and do well.

The Leadership Programme will develop and refine delegates’ personal leadership skills, including the ability to handle difficult situations, influence others and build relationships. It will also teach delegates how to increase their mental and physical capacity when working under pressure.

Dates for the 2023 programme: 

  • Session 1: Personal leadership - 7 March
  • Session 2: Boosting overall effectiveness - 26 April
  • Session 3: Charting a viable career path  - 19 May
  • Session 4: Reflection/Celebration session - 26 June

Deadline to apply for the 2023 cohort: 7 February 2023, 11:59pm

Apply here: Leadership Development Programme Application Form

Find out more about the programme



ECR Careers Day 2023 (16 Feb 2023) 

The QS Institute of Neurology together with the Faculty of Brain Sciences organised an Early Career Researchers (ECRs) careers day on 16 February 2023, which was designed to cover the different career options available to researchers at their early stage.

IoN EDI Seminar Series


▶︎  Navigating intersectionality 20th October 2021

A thought-provoking conversation with special Guest Speaker Baroness Oona King of Bow.

YouTube Widget Placeholderhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RcCMDDND5WA

Baroness King speaks of her experiences working to improve diversity and inclusion, breaking down barriers and promoting progressive and inclusive organisational cultures in technology, media and beyond. The event is a conversation with an audience at all stages of their understanding and learning on matters of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, exploring what intersectionality means in real-world situations, and how can we translate this awareness into our individual practices and organizational policies to improve our approach to inclusivity. 


▶︎  Ramadan in the workplace

What you need to know to support our Muslim colleagues at work

An event design to and by IoN colleagues. An opportunity to learn about Ramadan and understanding our Muslim colleagues' experiences in the workplace during this period. This was also be an opportunity for colleagues and line managers to ask questions to better understand Ramadan and discuss how they can support our Muslim colleagues during this month.


▶︎  Mental health in Academia: break the silence

mental health in academia

Growing evidence shows we are in the midst of a mental health crisis in Academia, affecting everyone: from our students to our researchers and academics. We want to open the discussion around the stressors that lead to increased anxiety and ill mental health in academia, and what strategies we can apply for better outcomes.

  • Listen to our first conversation on how we can break the silence and improve mental health outcomes in our workplace (available on our Intranet).