A watchdog has admitted it failed to investigate Dundee students who played noughts and crosses on a cadaver donated for medical training, as further allegations of misconduct at the university have emerged.
HM Inspector of Anatomy said it had no records of the incident in November 2016, for which no culprits were ever identified, and decided at the time no action was required because Dundee University was already looking into the matter.
A former inspector reportedly spoke to education bosses about the incident on the phone and again during a visit to the campus, where a lack of progress was identified, but still failed to launch his own investigation.
The incident only came to light following a Freedom of Information request earlier this month. It revealed the university was the only institution in Scotland to report an incident of a cadaver being mistreated by students.
Bosses insisted the matter was investigated with the “utmost seriousness” and was the only incident of its kind. However, further allegations of misconduct have since come to light.
One former medical student described the noughts and crosses incident as “not surprising at all” and said it brought back memories of her time at the university and behaviour which “stepped over the line into disrespectful and possibly dangerous”.
She recalled incidents where students would dare each other to lick the cadavers and another where an individual boasted of taking home a nipple before posting it to a friend.
She said: “At the end of the year all of the cadavers we used were cremated in a ceremony at the university chaplaincy and all of the deceased’s families were invited.
“It was mandatory for all medical students to attend and knowing that some of my classmates were in the same room as the families of the cadavers they had been so disrespectful to made me extremely uncomfortable.”
Scottish Conservative shadow health secretary Miles Briggs said families deserved to know their loved ones were being treated with respect.
“Medical professionals must uphold the highest ethical standards,” he said.
“When there is obvious wrongdoing, I would expect a full and rigorous investigation by the faculty and its partners.”
Dundee University said it was not previously aware of the further allegations but urged any current or former students with concerns to contact its Centre for Anatomy and Human Identification.
A spokesperson said: “Work with cadavers is among the most tightly regulated and monitored aspects of training for anatomy, dentistry, medical and other students.
“All students who work with cadavers as part of their training sign the Anatomy Code of Conduct, which explicitly outlines the requirements of the University and the law and emphasises the deep standard of respect required by all towards the deceased.
“We take our responsibilities to donors and their families extremely seriously, and work closely with HM Inspector of Anatomy to ensure we operate to the highest standards.
“Any student found to have acted inappropriately in handling cadavers would face serious disciplinary action.”
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “The HM Inspector of Anatomy consistently impresses upon university anatomy schools the requirement for proper behaviour by their students on all courses involving anatomy.
“Students, at all times are expected to uphold a high standard of decency and respect.
“Given the new information provided, the current Inspector has made contact with Dundee University and is following up this matter.”