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Conference strengthens links between universities 

In March, the University of Leicester and the Medical University of Southern Africa (Medunsa) co-hosted a conference entitled Teaching Medical Students Human Diversity: Does it Matter? The conference, which was held in Boksburg, Johannesburg and sponsored by the British Council and the Department for International Development, heralded the completion of a three-year link between Medunsa and Leicester. The link was established to provide: 'one of the most successful British Council projects to date in South Africa'
  • Guidance on the process of curriculum development;
  • Advice on educational materials development;
  • Staff and non-government organizations (NGOs) training on teaching skills, presentation, facilitation and evaluation techniques;
  • Assistance with the development of an evaluation instrument;
  • Specific assistance in evaluating learning that takes place in the affective domain  (attitudes).
[Photo: Conference participants]

The purpose of the conference was to disseminate the project outcomes of the Leicester-Medunsa link and to raise the profile of key areas of importance in medical undergraduate education and help them become part of a wider South African agenda to improve clinical care and ensure that doctors provide equitable care to all their patients. 

The conference consisted of keynote presentations addressing the project itself, diversity teaching models and communication skills. These were followed by workshops run by Leicester staff included Teaching Diversity and Supporting Students’ Learning. Barry Masoga (Regional Director of Education for Southern Africa at the British Council) talked about the value of partnerships and described the Leicester and Medunsa link as “one of the most successful British Council projects to date in South Africa”.

The project has successfully met all its aims and was able to demonstrate this at the conference. Additionally, two publications are already in press and another two papers in preparation. The project can be considered successful on a number of levels but perhaps the most important outcome is the empowerment of academic teachers in South Africa to develop teaching in such a critical area of the undergraduate curriculum. Over the two days, over sixty delegates attending from a range of institutions all over South Africa.  Feedback from the delegates was very positive and the conference well received.

The link has involved Dr Nisha Dogra (Senior Lecturer), Dr Mari Lloyd-Williams (former Honorary Senior Lecturer in Palliative Care at University of Leicester and now Director of Community Studies at the University of Liverpool), Fiona McPhail (formerly Equal Opportunities at University of Leicester), Sue Cavendish (Educational Advisor to the Postgraduate Office, University of Leicester) and Richard Clark (Assistant Director of Teaching and Learning Unit, University of Leicester).  

Medunsa and Leicester have benefited from the effective teamwork between academic and academic related staff at the University of Leicester. 

Nisha Dogra

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Last updated: 29 May 2003 10:55
Created by: Barbara Whiteman

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