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Education

Uni resources against sexual harassment

With the charity AVA (Against Violence and Abuse) and the National Union of Students (NUS), the umbrella group Universities UK (UUK) has launched resources to support unis in combatting sexual misconduct, harassment and all forms of hate.

The resources include a toolkit and ‘quick guide’ for vice-chancellors, which provides peer-to-peer advice based on interviews with vice chancellors. It includes advice and insights, examples of promising practice, and practical steps senior leaders can take. An online tool, called the Impact Matrix, is for universities to measure their progress in tackling and preventing sexual misconduct.

These resources have been produced as part of Combat Misconduct, a three-year project led by AVA with UUK and NUS, and funded by the Rosa Justice and Equality Fund. It builds on previous work from the sector, including UUK’s Changing the Culture Taskforce and publications and the Hidden Marks research by the NUS.

Prof Steve West, President of Universities UK and Vice-Chancellor of UWE Bristol, said: “It is a priority for UK universities to tackle all forms of sexual misconduct, harassment and hate and there is a responsibility on our leaders to ensure everything possible is done within their institutions to address this wider societal issue. This toolkit provides an important resource in helping leaders to identify, embed and improve the strategic actions required to positively shift the dial in universities’ culture. This culture must be shaped by everyone on campus and this helpful work supports vice-chancellors to review their institutional approach and how it can be further improved both with the support of, and for the benefit of, the entire university community.”

UUK is running a one-day conference in central London on the subject on March 3, including a keynote address by Prof Steve West.

A report released in October by the UUK Taskforce found ‘no comprehensive data available to indicate how many UK university students are affected by such incidents’; and despite ‘a visible commitment to protecting students’, ‘not every university had all of the necessary building blocks in place’. The report pointed also to ‘growing prevalence of online harassment and hate crime’.

For the NUS, Sara Khan, Vice President Liberation and Equality, welcomed the toolkit, ‘as a practical, necessary, and urgent resource for leaders ready to change the cultures of universities not only on their doorstep, but nationwide’.

Separately, AVA offers a downloadable document – guidelines and best practice in providing support for children/young people who are living with conflict, abuse, and violence at home, as commissioned by Cambridgeshire County Council.


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