The universities legislation requires RCSI to promote critical and free inquiry, informed intellectual discourse and public debate and, in a wider society, that it respects the diversity of values, beliefs and traditions in Irish society. In 2015, RCSI partnered with the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education, LFHE, and committed to supporting female staff to join the leadership programme, and to date a significant number of staff members have completed an in-house leadership development programme.
In 2016, RCSI launched the Emily Winifred Dixon prize, which recognises women who have made an outstanding contribution to the field. One of those people who has won that prize is Professor Louise Richardson, of whom many members will know. She is the vice-chancellor of the University of Oxford. Former President of Ireland, Dr. Mary Robinson, also received the Emily Winifred Dixon prize. In October 2018, RCSI was awarded an Athena SWAN bronze award in recognition of positive gender practice, providing equal opportunities for success for all people. I understand it is working towards that silver award.
As mentioned, it also participates in the higher education admissions route, supporting socio-economically disadvantaged students, and it provides a number of access scholarships for CAO school leaving applicants. I had the great pleasure of meeting one family from the Traveller community, a family member who is a graduate of RCSI, with another brother training as a medical doctor and a sister training as a nurse. These scholarships will provide reduced entry points, financial support, and opportunities for students who might otherwise be unable to attend third level.
Students from 30 countries study and train at RCSI, and this is evidence of the diversity of the institution. The other point I wanted to make was that there will be university designation across all the campuses, and there will be a consistent approach, which I would expect from RCSI, of the highest educational and ethical standards across the universities. I am going to leave that topic and turn to the piece on Bahrain, if the committee does not mind.
What I would like to highlight is that RCSI can already use the title university outside of the State for specified purposes under the existing 2015 legislation. Therefore, the draft order before the committee today has no impact on RCSI using the university title outside the State. As Deputy Jan O'Sullivan said, higher educational institutions, HEIs, are independent, autonomous bodies with responsibilities to governing bodies, as well as to staff, students, and wider stakeholders. This is also true in large measure to those HEIs which do not receive primary funding from the State, but which may receive university authorisation under this process.
RCSI has informed me about its Bahrain campus, and its work in that region. RCSI has placed a strong emphasis on the ethos and the standards of its Bahrain campus, where it provides quality medical and nursing training in a non-sectarian environment, and where it instills high ethical standards of medical practice in its students and in its graduates. RCSI advocates on behalf of medical personnel in treating all patients regardless of their backgrounds. RCSI has publicly stressed that the well-being of its Bahrain staff and students, and their freedom to work and learn in safety, is paramount. RCSI believes that by continuing to educate 1,400 students of all religious and cultural backgrounds, and socio-economic groups in Bahrain, as well as instilling adherence to the highest ethical standards of medical practice, it can most effectively contribute to just outcomes and to community reconciliation. The RCSI medical programme has been validated by the Irish Medical Council, IMC, following an inspection visit to Bahrain. A notable graduate of RCSI is Nada Haffadh, who became Bahrain's first female minister, after being appointed health minister in 2004.
I heard what was said today. It was alleged that the hospitals in Bahrain, where RCSI Bahrain medical and nursing students have their clinical training, were connected to torture and discriminatory conduct in the provision of healthcare. There is no evidence to back up this assertion. The RCSI medical programme has been validated by the Irish Medical Council, following an inspection to Bahrain. The Irish Medical Council accreditation report is a publicly available document. I can read out some of its findings, if the committee would like to hear those, but the IMC accreditation team commended RCSI Bahrain, and the teaching hospital, which is the subject of the unproven allegations, for their attention to students and to their professional and ethical development. In particular, the report noted that students at clinical sites, that is, associated teaching hospitals, understood that they could raise concerns regarding professionalism observed at clinical sites, knew who they should contact and were confident that their concerns would be treated seriously and appropriately. Furthermore, a stand-alone module on human rights has been introduced to the curriculum, with assessment explicitly linked to student progress. A range of external sources are explicitly identified as being referenced in teaching professionalism, in ethics and in human rights, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Bill of Human Rights and the report of the Bahrain independent commission of inquiry.
I will leave it at that.