Universities and colleges receive £2.45 million to tackle sexual harassment

Posted by ap507 at Mar 14, 2017 12:56 PM |
University of Leicester campaign tackles gender-based social issue

Issued by University of Leicester Press Office on 14 March 2017

HEFCE has awarded grants to over 60 projects in universities – including the University of Leicester - and colleges across the country which address concerns about sexual violence and harassment on campus.

The grants, from HEFCE’s Catalyst Fund [Note 1], were issued in response to a report by the Universities UK Harassment Task Force which explored the nature and scale of the problem in higher education, and highlighted the need for institutions to respond more effectively. [Note 2].

The projects have been developed with students, who will have pivotal roles in their delivery. They cover a wide range of activity, including training and awareness raising, digital innovation, and new approaches to prevention and reporting.

Gill McIntyre, Head of Student Support at the University of Leicester, said: “We are dealing with a sector wide issue and information we have received from our own student survey (2016) reflects what the NUS found in their ‘Hidden Marks’ Survey (2010). On that basis we are being proactive in addressing this social issue. Work will include supporting students who have been a victim of sexual assault as well as working positively across the student community in ways to change the culture.”

The University of Leicester campaign focuses on developing a robust framework and is known as ‘Standing Together’. New initiatives together with existing work will be combined and embedded so that work extends beyond the project time and funding. This will involve cutting across organisational boundaries to ensure services join up, both internally and externally so that students don’t have to navigate themselves between organisational services for support.

Professor Jon Scott, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Student Experience, said: “This funding from HEFCE provides significant recognition and support for the on-going work of the Standing Together campaign. Sexual harassment is wholly unacceptable and the University of Leicester is committed both to supporting anyone in our community who has been a victim of such behaviour and to driving cultural change to eliminate this scourge.”

The University of Leicester is also a champion for HeForShe, a global solidarity movement for gender equality, with the aim of engaging and encouraging men and boys to take action against gender inequality and to spread awareness and inspire action to eliminate discrimination against women and girls. The University of Leicester was invited by the United Nations to be one of just ten universities in the HeForShe ‘10x10x10 IMPACT Champions’ programme.

Gender based violence is the priority this year for HeForShe and this work at Leicester will tie in with the international campaign.

Gill McIntyre added: “We held a HeForShe Ideathon last year that provided inspiring ideas to help tackle gender based violence, some we are already working on and there are plans to develop a campaign through the Arts to express stories of gender based harm.”

Universities Minister Jo Johnson said: “We take any form of violence and sexual harassment extremely seriously, and expect universities to take a zero-tolerance approach.

“The interest and response to HEFCE’s fund has been hugely encouraging. The number of projects announced and the support shown reinforces the willingness of universities, across the country, to support staff and students in providing safe and secure campuses and I look forward to seeing the impact of these projects in due course.” 

HEFCE Chief Executive, Professor Madeleine Atkins, said: “All students should feel safe and supported during their time in higher education. Universities and colleges are working hard to tackle issues of sexual harassment and violence on campus, but there is more to be done. Their determination and commitment is evident in the overwhelmingly positive response to HEFCE’s Catalyst Fund call.

“We are delighted to be supporting a range of innovative projects, and we will be looking to share good practice and evidence of successful outcomes over the coming months.”



1.         HEFCE’s catalyst fund provides targeted investment in activity led by universities and colleges. The fund supports a range of student and sector priorities, including innovation in higher education, efficiency and effectiveness, and student interest issues. The call for student safeguarding on campus was issued on 20 December 2016 and closed on 02 February 2017. HEFCE has awarded £2,453,141 funding to 64 institutions. The successful bids can be found here

The proposals were assessed by the Catalyst Safeguarding Panel, which is chaired by HEFCE’s Director of Universities and Colleges, Yvonne Hawkins. Panel members include Ben Bailey (Chair of AMOSSHE and Director of Student Services, University of Birmingham), Nerys Thomas (Head of Research, College of Policing) and Hareem Ghani, (Women’s Officer, NUS).

2.         The Universities UK report, “Changing the Culture” is here [http://www.universitiesuk.ac.uk/policy-and-analysis/reports/Documents/2016/changing-the-culture.pdf ]. HEFCE’s grant letter for 2017-18 [http://www.hefce.ac.uk/news/newsarchive/2017/Name,112915,en.html] asked the Council to support the sector to implement the report’s recommendations.

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