Congratulations to the School of Nursing – First Silver Athena SWAN award for Ulster University

8 May 2019

Congratulations to the School of Nursing – First Silver Athena SWAN award for Ulster University

The School of Nursing has been awarded a Silver Athena SWAN award, the first time a School in the University has received this honour.

In 2015, a Bronze Athena SWAN award was achieved and at this stage, a commitment was made to address key issues that included demonstrating impact of the culture change project, enhancing female representation at key committees and embarking on a range of activities to address the underrepresentation of males on nursing programmes. It also sought to create more meaningful processes for staff appraisal, as well as enhancing support and mentorship for leadership and promotions, particularly for women.

Since the 2015 award, the School’s application evidenced demonstrable impact including:

  • Male undergraduate nursing applications increased from 8.52% to 10.2% in three years
  • Introduction of developmental appraisal review (DAR) to all staff, through establishment of a new School Professoriate, saw engagement increase from 54% to 88%
  • Continued investment in staff development and promotion opportunities achieved 90% of staff holding a teaching qualification, the highest figure for any individual School within Ulster
  • Greater awareness of and access to formal flexible working/leave process with an increased staff awareness (46% to 78%) of University work life policies
  • Positive impact of the School’s culture project on the sense of support and equity in the school, including collaborative development of a School Strategic Plan
  • Progressing inclusiveness in integrating Professional Services and Technical (PST) Staff in the School Leadership Team and Self-Assessment Team (SAT).

Professor Carol Curran, Executive Dean of the Faculty of Life and Health Sciences and Athena SWAN Co-Chair, said

“This is great news for everyone in the School of Nursing and recognises our continued commitment to providing leadership and embedding Athena SWAN principles in all that we do across the Faculty and the University.  I would like to acknowledge the dedication shown by Prof Sonja McIlfatrick, Head of School, and Dr Neal Cook, Associate Head of School who led this submission, along with all members of the Self-Assessment Team.

The School of Nursing has been at the forefront of delivering excellence through nursing education and research for over four decades.  This award demonstrates that the School of Nursing is a strong exemplar of good practice in equality and diversity and through participation in the award process, a number of positive changes have been and will continue to be achieved by the School of Nursing.”

The School of Nursing’s Silver award will be valid until November 2022 and a formal award presentation to staff will be held in June 2019.

The University’s Athena SWAN Action Plan 2017 – 2021 will further advance gender equality through initiatives to support opportunity, inclusiveness and confidence.


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