The University of Bradford has pledged to improve after it was condemned for “systemic, institutional failure to confront bullying, harassment and racism” by an independent review.

The report, by a panel headed by the chairman of the Society of Black Lawyers, Peter Herbert, was commissioned following allegations by two employees of the University’s School of Health of bullying and racism in 2005.

Two internal grievance panels initially found that while there had been poor management there had been no discrimination but the finding was reversed last year.

The university’s Vice-Chancellor Professor Mark Cleary then made an unreserved apology.

The review has now found that: “The culture of the University was to regard any finding of race discrimination as being significantly worse than any other form of discrimination” adding that a “moral denial of the existence of racism” was a “characteristic of university management”.

The Bradford branch of the University and College Union (UCU) was also criticised in the report for not properly representing the needs of its black and minority-ethnic members.

The panel offered a series of recommendations including the implementation of mandatory race, bullying and harassment awareness training for all senior management.

Commenting on the review’s findings, Prof Cleary said: “The University has received and welcomes all the recommendations from the review report and has developed a programme to implement changes.

“These recommendations provide clear guidelines and will help us to put into place a programme of continual improvement.

“We welcome the collaboration with UCU in the development of this work and we are confident that the outcome will bring better management processes for all staff at the University.”

UCU National Head of Higher Education Michael MacNeil said: “We will continue to work with the University as we have a joint interest in ensuring that the panel’s challenging findings are acted upon and the recommendations are implemented.”

Chairman of the review panel Peter Herbert said: “While we have made serious criticisms of the University we are confident that having accepted our review findings and recommendations Bradford University have the leadership and commitment to ensure that a forward-looking action plan is produced to implement a programme of real change.

“The University now stands out as an institution of higher education which truly confronts inequality and has chosen to overcome these issues to build a more inclusive and better place of learning for all concerned.”