College of Life Sciences

About the meeting


This was the fourth meeting of the UK Medical Schools EDI Network, which began in 2018 in Newcastle with a focus on the Athena SWAN Charter in Medical Schools. Over the last 5 years, we have seen a broadening of the EDI agenda and much progress. The Medical Schools Council formed its ED&I alliance in 2021 to provide practical guidance and support.

In 2011, the Chief Medical Officer announced that the National Institute for Health Research would only shortlist medical schools that had attained a ‘Silver’ Athena Swan award for funding. This link to funding was broken in 2020. In the same year, the BMA launched a charter to prevent racial harassment (See note 1) after an investigation found that only half of medical schools collected data on students’ complaints about racism and racial harassment (See note 2). Despite first learning about it in 1995, there remains an attainment gap for medical students from ethnic minority groups (See note 3). In 2018 the BMJ published a lexicon for gender bias in academia and medicine and in 2021 it published the experiences of Webb et al of sexism as medical students. Recent work has shown that more students are declaring disabilities than previously and that these are not generally barriers to progression (See note 4).

Medical schools now have a wealth of charters that they can choose to adopt, however none are linked to funding. In addition, the announcement of the Education Minister Michelle Donnelly, that the Race Equality Charter was “in tension” with universities responsibility to maintain free speech has the potential to further erode progress. The GMC Equality, Diversity and Inclusion: targets, progress and priorities for 2022 also call on universities to submit organisational action plans describing how they will improve outcomes for ethnic minority learners and to monitor fairness and exam outcomes. The report asks ‘that all educational organisations contribute to building the evidence on ‘what works’ by evaluating pilot initiatives. We ask that they share their findings with others across the system so that initiatives can be scaled up and applied in different environments more quickly’ (See note 5).

In this ever-changing landscape, the need for medical schools to work collectively to share best practice and make tangible progress on EDI for their students and staff has never been greater. We hope this meeting will be an opportunity to further advocacy and collaboration and share knowledge of what works so that we can move forward together.

Meeting outcomes

The meeting will:

  • Provide a space to make connections with colleagues from other institutions.
  • Share best practice on ‘what works’.
  • Review the progress we have made in the last 5 years and ways forward for medical education and EDI.

Intended audience

The meeting will be of interest to anyone working in the field of equality, diversity and inclusion within medical education. Our primary audience is staff, but we welcome students to join the event and submit abstracts.

Meeting themes

We wanted to maintain a broad focus for the meeting and welcomed submissions on all aspects of EDI and medical education We were keen to hear about EDI research and teaching activities as well as initiatives that have been implemented.

Our themed panels were:

  • Working within the wider EDI landscape (linking all the charters, including the transformed Athena Swan Charter).
  • Disability, including hidden disabilities.
  • Practical solutions for tackling racism and developing an inclusive curriculum.

Meeting structure

Held online from 10.00am to 4.00pm with a soft start/end for networking. Recorded presentations were presented and are available to view on our website. Live online discussions and workshops took place throughout the day. Posters and networking were available in the interactive online area.

Download the programme here (PDF, 830kb)


Please contact the meeting organisation team via with any queries.


  1. BMA.Racialharassmentcharterformedicalschools. Updated 13 November 2020.
  2. Kmietowicz Z. Are medical schools turning a blind eye to racism?BMJ 2020;368:m420. doi: 10.1136/bmj.m420 pmid: 32051116
  3. Woolf K. Differential attainment in medical education and training BMJ 2020; 368 :m339 doi:10.1136/bmj.m339
  4. Murphy MJ, Dowell JS, Smith DT. Factors associated with declaration of disability in medical students and junior doctors, and the association of declared disability with academic performance: observational study using data from the UK Medical Education Database, 2002–2018 (UKMED54)BMJ Open 2022;12:e059179. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2021-059179
  5. Equality, diversity and inclusion: targets, progress and priorities for 2022, Published March 2022,, GMC/ED&I22/0322

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